Yes. You would not be able to find a more significant win on the remainder of Syracuse’s schedule than tonight’s showdown in Coral Gables against 17th-ranked Miami. The implications it has on this team’s postseason chances, player development, and future are gigantic.
First and foremost, this is a road contest. This will sound obvious, but picking up a win against a top-tier team on the road is significantly tougher than doing it in the comforts of home. That said, it presents a fantastic opportunity to give your postseason resume a big boost. And Miami is the best team left among the Orange’s remaining road opponents. After tonight, no one that SU faces away from home is currently in KenPom’s top 40. The games down the stretch against Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina are all at home. If Syracuse wins tonight it has its signature win this season bar none.
This is also a prove-it game for many of the young guns who have (and haven’t) shined lately. Chris Bell had 17 against Notre Dame the other night, but the Irish have one win in ACC play. Maliq Brown has had an awesome three-game stretch, can he make it four tonight? Will Benny Williams rediscover his touch from the Boston College game? Big-time performances in games like tonight’s can have a huge impact on player development, especially as we get closer and closer to the regular season’s finish line.
Finally, a win like this would pay big dividends when it comes to recruiting. SU has not beaten a ranked opponent on the road since January 11, 2020. It’s not far-fetched to say a lack of notable wins over the past two seasons may have had recruits not thrilled with the prospect of joining the program. A win tonight is the type of win that changes that. We discussed high-rising guard Elijah Moore earlier today, would a victory tonight ice the cake in bringing him in?
There’s also the elephant in the room of last year’s matchups with Miami. Syracuse held 18-point leads in both contests, yet choked on the road AND at home (on Senior Day nonetheless). Simply put, the efforts in those two games down the stretch were embarrassing. Twice the Orange had a team that eventually went to the Elite 8 on the ropes, and twice they faltered. If that isn’t a monkey Jim Boeheim wants to get off his back, then he has fully lost his passion for coaching.
As we await tipoff from the Watsco Center in a few hours, get your popcorn ready. Hopefully Syracuse plays with more energy tonight, because there’s no better time for it than now.