With Syracuse’s season perpetually on the line with just three games remaining before the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, SU needs a victory on the road against Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Yellow Jackets mark the Orange’s last opportunity for a Quad 1 win in the regular season. For now, SU is 0-5 in Quad 1 opportunities.
But Georgia Tech matches up well against the 2-3 zone. GT has the 19th most efficient offense in the country, according to Kenpom, and hits 36% of its shots from behind the arc. Point guard Jose Alvarado is shooting a career high 43% from three, and can stretch the top of Syracuse’s zone. While Joe Girard will likely get the starting nod again, SU needs Kadary Richmond’s length in the game to contest shots from Alvarado.
But the senior guard isn’t the only sharpshooter for the Yellow Jackets. Junior guard Michael Devoe is shooting over 40% on triples as well. While Alvarado stretches the top of the zone, Devoe can stretch the wings and corners — which has been a weakness for Syracuse all season long.
“We’re just not coming out and getting the movement we need to get on defense,” head coach Jim Boeheim said following an 85-71 loss to Duke on Monday. “It’s got nothing to do with our guards, our forwards are not playing defense.”
If starters Quincy Guerrier and Alan Griffin continue poor defensive play, including slow rotations and little activity, Syracuse could be in for a long day against Georgia Tech.
But, if SU begins Saturday’s game with tight, active defense, the Orange have a chance to pull off the upset. If SU loses, it needs to win the ACC tournament in order to make March Madness. But winning its last three games could give Syracuse some breathing room. Maybe Syracuse would only have to make the ACC tournament finals. But in order for that to happen, Syracuse must right the ship and win on Saturday.