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SU’s Next Four Games Will Determine Its Postseason Fate

Credit Dennis Nett/Courtesy Syracuse.com

We’re approaching mid-February in Syracuse, so that can only mean one thing. It’s time to lace up those boots, brave the 20-degree temperatures outside to shovel two feet of snow off your car, and patiently await the selection committee’s placement of Syracuse men’s basketball into the NCAA tournament. That’s (probably) how things go during normal seasons of SU hoops, but this year has been different in a difficult way.

For a program used to threading the needle into March after months of bubble-watch, the unfamiliar specter of missing postseason play entirely is an unfamiliar one. In Jim Boeheim’s 45 completed seasons, SU has played zero postseason games just three times: in 1992-93, 2014-15, and in 2019-2020. Aside from the pandemic canceling the last season’s postseason altogether, the other two years were due to NCAA sanctions. Never before has an SU team lost enough games on its own accord to simply fade from postseason consideration.

That danger is very real this year with Syracuse sitting at 12-11 with eight regular season games remaining. For all intents and purposes, you can divide those remaining eight matchups into two halves: the four Syracuse has to and should win, and the four you shouldn’t expect to snag (but would still like to). The four contests SU needs to net are coming up consecutively, starting tonight against Boston College. A road trip to Virginia Tech and home matchups against BC (again) and Georgia Tech are what follows. Each of those three teams sit in the ACC’s bottom half.

SU has comprehensively destroyed the last three teams it’s played, so Jim Boeheim’s bunch is hot at the right time. Unfortunately, dismantling three straight conference teams wasn’t enough for Syracuse to pop up even in the latest NIT bracketology. That makes the team’s home stretch that much more important. Win the next four against some mediocre teams, and a 16-11 record with a pretty tough strength of schedule (currently the 35th toughest in all of Division I) may be enough to sneak into the NIT. If SU wins at least one of its final four games against Notre Dame, Duke, UNC, or Miami, that possibility seems all but guaranteed.

There isn’t a lot of room left in Syracuse’s schedule for error, and the path to another postseason seems clear. The question is whether or not Jim Boeheim can take a break from belittling longtime reporters to gear his team up for its most crucial stretch of the year. 45 successful years should make you feel confident he can pull off the latter, but now it’s time to wait and see. The program’s longtime streaks and a jolt of confidence for the Class of 2022 are at stake.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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