Syracuse is currently undergoing a pause in play due to COVID protocols.
They’ve been here before, last year when multiple players on the team contracted the virus in mid-December. The team waited 18 days to play another opponent after beating Buffalo in overtime. There were questions swirling regarding how badly the break would impact the team, some thought it would diminish any post-season hopes others thought it wouldn’t change much. When the Orange finally emerged from the pause on January 6th, they suffered a 1-3 record in their first 4 games back. Those three losses included two brutal ones to Pitt, one at home by 3, the other on the road by 20. Syracuse shouldn’t have lost either game to a team that finished the year 10-12.
So that now begs the question: What will we see when Syracuse gets back on the floor to play Georgia Tech on December 29th? Well, it would be hard to argue it’ll be pretty. SU has already severely underperformed thus far, losing to teams like Colgate and Georgetown which will both count at Quad 4 losses. Not playing for over two weeks and then being thrown into conference play doesn’t really seem like it’s what this team needs in order to turn things around. The first five teams SU plays coming out of their COVID pause are Georgia Tech (Dec. 29), Virginia (Jan. 1), Miami (Jan. 5), Wake Forest (Jan. 8), and Pitt (Jan 11). Here are those teams ranked by current Net Rankings/KenPom rankings:
Syracuse – 122/68
Georgia Tech – 159/108
Virginia – 84/57
Miami – 106/100
Wake Forest – 33/65
Pittsburgh – 236/188
Other than Wake Forest, no team is out of SU’s league (according to KenPom WF isn’t even out of SU’s league), but a COVID pause could change that.
This stretch is crucial for Syracuse, it has a chance to beat up on teams it really should in order to pad that late-season resume. Though, with a COVID pause in mind, it’s entirely plausible that some of these should be wins turn into really bad losses. Not to mention they’ve got a lot of ground to travel. They’re home on the 29th and 1st then on the road down in Miami, then up to North Carolina to face the Demon Deacons, and then right back in the Carrier Dome to face Pitt on the 11th. A lot of traveling to do for a team that will have been stagnant for 18 days.
You can guarantee we’ll hear Jim Boeheim speak about it after the first few games back from the pause. It’s something that certainly will take a toll. Not practicing can be brutal for teams, especially ones that need it now more than ever as the Orange do, and ones that are going to be all over the map, literally.