Okay so we were a bit off with our preseason predictions but who wasn’t? “Best shooting team Coach Boeheim has ever had,” “Instant impact transfers,” “Buddy Boeheim is a first team All-ACC player.” We may have drank too much of the Kool-aid. In our defense, we haven’t seen a season as turbulent as this one under Syracuse’s long tenured head man. With that said, the Orange still have a shot to make the NCAA Tournament but the switch needs to be flipped right now.
@ Pittsburgh (1/25) W
vs Wake Forest (1/29) W
These are both must win games for Syracuse. The Orange derailed the Panthers just two weeks ago in the Dome 77-61. Pitt always struggles to shoot the ball well against the zone defense. In the first meeting they had four (4) field goals in the second half.
Wake Forest is experiencing an insane turnaround but SU took the Demon Deacons all the way to the wire. In fact, ‘Cuse took Wake even beyond the wire into overtime. The Orange had the lead with just seconds remaining but turned it over and fumbled the advantage in what ended up being a loss. Had Syracuse held on to the lead, it would’ve been the Demon Deacs first loss in Winston-Salem all season. This has to be a win for Syracuse.
@ NC State (2/2) W
vs Louisville (2/5) W
@ BC (2/8) W
@ Va Tech (2/12) L
Starting with NC State, it’s honestly a toss up (as are most of these). The Pack don’t shoot the ball well as they rank towards the bottom of the conference in field goals and 3-pt field goals. They rebound it pretty well but that hasn’t been a massive factor in Syracuse’s success/failure this year. The Orange should win this one but it depends on if the shots are falling or not.
Louisville falls into the same category as NC State. The Cards don’t hit shots at a high clip but do rebound well. Syracuse should still win this battle with its offense. Lump BC into that same discussion, just not a team that’s scaring anybody amidst a rebuild.
Virginia Tech is the toughest test in this four-game stretch for Syracuse. Tech is just 2-6 in ACC play but many of those losses have been very competitive. On top of that, it’s just not a great matchup for SU. The Hokies are the 5th best field goal percentage team in conference at 46% and they lead the conference in 3-pt % at about 39%. To beat the zone, opponents have to hit shots and Virginia Tech can do that.
HOWEVER, Clemson was supposed to be good at the same stuff? They’re very similar teams (VT and Clemson). Both shoot well and hit their threes most of the time but if those shots don’t fall they’re in trouble. The Hokies aren’t dominant on the glass either so this game really boils down the success that Virginia Tech can have from range. Unfortunately, Syracuse hasn’t shown the ability to win close games on the road on a consistent basis so they loss a close one.
vs BC (2/19) W
vs GT (2/21) W
@ ND (2/23) W
vs Duke (2/26) L
@ UNC (2/28) L
Chalk up BC as another win as SU completes the sweep. Georgia Tech should be another win. The Yellow Jackets don’t do anything at a high level except defend the 3. GT ranks 3rd in the ACC allowing just 30% of opponents treys to fall through. Still Syracuse should win this matchup. Same can be said about Notre Dame, just mids in a lot of departments. The Fighting Irish will benefit from home court advantage though.
Duke is definitely a loss. There’s no doubt that Syracuse will shoot better than it did in the first matchup. Still this Blue Devils team has too much firepower led by AJ Griffin and Paolo Banchero. Coach K knows where and who to attack to rip the achilles heel of this ‘Cuse team. Get Jesse Edwards off the floor and you’re good. Now it would not be insanely surprising if this game was close because Duke shot the lights out of the ball in game one, maybe they struggle a bit this time around.
UNC is also a loss. The Tar Heels dominate the glass and get to the free throw line like nobody’s business. North Carolina will get Syracuse in foul trouble (i.e, Edwards) and cruise from there.
vs Miami (3/5) W
Syracuse should have won the first matchup. The Orange had a big halftime lead only to lose due to coughing the ball up every other possession in the second half. The Hurricanes didn’t shoot the ball well in the first matchup. Charlie Moore carried the team with a bunch of NBA range treys. SU should be more prepared this time around and will need this win looking ahead to the tournament.
So Syracuse finishes the season 18-13 overall, 12-8 in ACC play. This is probably not a bubble team because SU is lacking some big wins for the resume. The second half of the schedule features most of the average/below average ACC teams. The Orange will need to make it to the conference tourney semi-finals at the bare minimum and pull a couple upsets to be in the bubble discussion.
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