So far this season, Syracuse has had a somewhat up and down season. Some days, the guard play suffers. Other times, Syracuse has trouble battling on the glass, as was the case against Pittsburgh in both losses.
But how do the Orange play against up-tempo offenses versus slow-paced teams?
So far, at 10-5 there’s been a couple different reasons for SU’s losses. Against North Carolina, Syracuse couldn’t compete on the glass, as the Tar Heels grabbed 17 more rebounds than SU. Then against Virginia, Syracuse was stifled by Tony Bennett’s squads defense, and allowed open threes from Sam Hauser.
While Virginia plays at the slowest tempo of any team in college basketball, that wasn’t the reason it defeated SU. Just a game earlier, Syracuse clobbered Virginia Tech 78-60. The Hokies are also one the the slowest teams in the country, ranked 300th in raw tempo, according to Kenpom.
So far this season, most of SU’s opponents have come against slower-paced teams. The only ACC team that Syracuse has played inside the top-100 in raw tempo is Boston College, which Syracuse defeated handily.
But despite that blowout win, Syracuse has struggled with inferior opponents that play uptempo. Bryant, the third fastest team in the country, nearly upset the Orange in the season opener before falling 85-84.
If it wasn’t for an Alan Griffin block, Syracuse would have lost a non-conference game to Buffalo, which plays with the 10th fastest tempo. Instead SU pulled away in overtime to win 107-96.
While Syracuse has lost all four games to slower paced teams, Rutgers and Virginia are much better teams. Pittsburgh seems to have elevated to a new level this season under Jeff Capel. North Carolina plays relatively fast and is a bad matchup for SU, due to its interior strength.
Syracuse has had the luxury of not playing many fast-paced offenses, which make it more difficult to set up the 2-3 zone. Both Bryant and Buffalo hoist up a shot less than 15 seconds into a possession. Syracuse thrives when opposing guards have nowhere to go with the basketball at the top of the zone.
SU will continue playing slow-paced teams for the foreseeable future. Clemson plays with the 320th ranked adjusted tempo in the country. Then Syracuse hosts a rematch against NC State, which isn’t speedy either.
All in all, Syracuse’s only remaining game with a team in the top-75 in pace is Boston College. Besides that, most of its opponents play at one of the slowest paces in the country. While there are more talented teams remaining on the schedule, most will play at a speed that Syracuse is seemingly most comfortable with.