Syracuse basketball was stripped of yet another opportunity for a quadrant-1 win on Wednesday when Louisville came down with another COVID-19 positive. The Orange have now had four games against quadrant-1 teams cancelled or postponed this year due to the pandemic.
Sure, the Orange needed to capitalize on the opportunities they already had against quality teams, but as of now the committee will be evaluating a weak resumé that had little chance of ever being strong. In order to go dancing, SU needs to add games to their schedule. The question is who could they play.
1. North Carolina
It all comes down to who is available. The Orange already played the Tar Heels on Chapel Hill, but that shouldn’t matter during a pandemic. This matchup works perfectly for Syracuse. They will already be down in North Carolina next week, visiting Duke on Monday. UNC will need a game badly since they won’t be able to play Louisville this Saturday, as previously scheduled. To make matters worse for North Carolina, Boston College already postponed their Tuesday game against the Tar Heels due to COVID-complications in their program. So a mid-week meeting makes sense for both sides.
Then there’s the added benefit of a quadrant-1 opportunity. UNC is currently 53rd in the NET rankings. A road opponent ranked 1-75 is considered the upper tier.
Stay with me here. Even though Syracuse plays Duke on Monday, you might as well make it a double feature. Duke will likely need a game mid-week anyway because their next scheduled game after Monday is Saturday against Louisville. So now the Blue Devils are looking at a gaping hole in their schedule until March 2nd at Georgia Tech. That’s more than a week of purgatory for a team that is still in need of a resumé boost.
To top it off for Syracuse, Duke would also be considered a quadrant-1 victory since they are 61st in the NET rankings. There’s also no better time to play the Blue Devils with the recent opt-out of freshman stud Jaylon Johnson.
3. Notre Dame
It’s not ideal to play the Fighting Irish again. After all, the two teams are scheduled to play this Saturday in the Dome. But the Louisville-positive has a massive ripple effect around the ACC, and Notre Dame is feeling it too. The Irish are slated to play the Cardinals on Tuesday, the 23rd. So now their week is open between Saturday vs. Syracuse and next Saturday vs. Boston College, assuming the Eagles can even play though their COVID-situation.
The problem with this potential matchup is that the Orange are going down to Durham on Monday to play Duke, so Notre Dame isn’t going to stay in the Salt City while Syracuse is down south. The game would probably have to be played in South Bend, which works out better for Syracuse. A visit to Purcell Pavillion would give the Orange, you guessed it, another quadrant-1 chance since Notre Dame is 65th in the NET rankings.
Beggars can’t be choosers, but there has to be an incentive to add a team to the schedule for Syracuse. The players might say they just want to play, and when, where, or who it is against doesn’t matter. But the coaches should be afraid of a season-ending loss against an inferior opponent scheduled last minute just for the sake of playing a game. SU has to make it count.