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Syracuse Has a Real Shot at Missing the NCAA Tournament

Photo courtesy of syracuse.com

Syracuse’s chances to make the NCAA Tournament are getting slimmer by the week. Since the beginning of the new year, the Orange have lost four of their first six games before Saturday’s trip to Duke. The time is now for SU to go on a run if they want to make the big dance.

The Orange’s resume so far includes a couple of strong victories at Florida State and at home against Indiana (who just beat top-5 Purdue the other night). Syracuse is 2-6 in Quads 1 and 2 right now and 7-3 in Quads 3 and 4. The Orange need more quality wins if they want to make the tournament.

Looking at the schedule, Syracuse blew a couple of golden opportunities at Miami and Wake Forest, two of the top teams in the ACC so far this season. Those two resume wins could have been a major assist to any bubble team, especially SU.

Looking forward, Syracuse has a couple of Quad 1 opportunities against Duke and winning one of those games would go a long way for SU’s chances. The Orange also plays Wake Forest at home next weekend, at North Carolina in late February, and hosts Miami in early March as their best chances for quality wins.

Besides those games, SU has a number of opportunities against teams at the bottom of the ACC standings. Fattening up your record with wins against the likes of Pittsburgh, Boston College, Georgia Tech, NC State, and others at the beginning of February could also prove to help the Orange down the line.

It comes down to this. Syracuse has blown a lot of opportunities and has no one to blame but themselves for the position they are in. Non-conference losses to Colgate and Georgetown are deeply penalizing, as well as not capitalizing on halftime leads against VCU and Villanova in neutral site games.

The Orange still have a chance, but with each loss, that chance is getting smaller and smaller. From January 25th to February 21st, Syracuse plays eight games, and only two of them are against teams above them in the ACC standings. SU must win at least six of those eight contests if they want to have a shot at putting themselves in the conversation on Selection Sunday.

A strong performance against Duke on Saturday would start to help the Orange’s cause, but unless it results in a win, it means nothing on paper. SU must use the momentum and confidence it gained in Tuesday’s win over Clemson to start to pile up wins. Without winning a significant number of games in a row, this season might be over.

SU still has a chance, albeit a slim one, but they have to make the most of that chance and start playing like the team that was voted to finish in the top half of the ACC standings, not losing to Colgate and blowing a second-half lead in all of your ACC losses.

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