After an early-season plagued by inconsistency, pauses and plenty of missed jumpers, Syracuse has won its last two games. First the Orange throttled Miami, 83-57 as Joe Girard III and Buddy Boeheim poured on 23 points apiece.
Then on Jan. 23, Syracuse won its biggest game of the season so far, defeating No. 16 Virginia Tech 78-60. While Girard and Boeheim combined for just 12 points, Syracuse’s forwards led the team to victory over a solid Hokies defense. As was the case earlier in the year, SU showed it can win games in a variety of ways.
With Girard and Boeheim returning to form after both tested positive for COVID-19, SU should be closing in on full strength. Without Bourama Sidibe, SU still has a glaring weakness down low. But that issue can be solved in a couple of different ways. Against Miami, Jesse Edwards stepped up, finishing with seven points and six rebounds against the Hurricanes.
Then against VT, Marek Dolezaj stayed out of foul trouble and finished with 18 points, second on the team behind Quincy Guerrier. Dolezaj’s 8-8 shooting from the free throw line helped propel SU to a breezy top-25 win.
After seemingly shaking off its slump, SU faces No. 13 Virginia, its toughest matchup so far this season. While a win seems to be a luxury over the Cavaliers, it could help continue SU’s jump-start ahead of games against NC State, Louisville and No. 20 Clemson.
With premiere ACC programs like Duke struggling this season, Syracuse is in the midst of its most challenging stretch of the season. If SU is able to split its next four contests, that bodes extremely well for its NCAA Tournament chances.
With a couple of solid, Tier-1 wins, Jim Boeheim’s squad could be well on its way from exiting the perennial bubble, to becoming a solidly seeded March Madness squad.