Tut tut tut. After a mediocre (at best) performance at the KFC Yum! Center last night, Syracuse is 10-5 and 3-1 in conference play. Sure, the record is solid and the Orange have won seven of their last eight, but the eye test says the most about this team’s merit, or lack thereof.
The forwards don’t rebound. There isn’t a set rotation. Opposing teams fire at will from beyond the arc. We could go on and on listing problems with this team. Nonetheless, there are 16 games until the regular season finish line, let’s take a look at what the final record might look like.
The first opponent in January was (or at least should have been) a cupcake in Louisville. Yay for a good start? Well, welcome to the gauntlet Jim Boeheim. The Orange visit 11th-ranked Virginia this coming Saturday. Oh boy. Then SU returns home for a clash with Virginia Tech and a rematch with a Notre Dame squad that just lost to Boston College. Then it’s ACC-leading Miami followed by Georgia Tech on the road, before reigning national runner-up North Carolina visits the Dome. Finally, Syracuse visits Virginia Tech and hosts Virginia, which means four of the next eight matchups are against the schools from the Old Dominion.
The Orange are not beating the Cavaliers, Tar Heels, or Hurricanes. That’s four losses right there. It’s realistic to expect a split with the Hokies. The Yellow Jackets are terrible, that should be a W. Finally, if SU can’t beat the Fighting Irish at home after beating them in South Bend, what are we doing. So by this, Syracuse should enter February 13-10 and 6-6 in ACC play.
The good news is that February is nowhere near as tough. SU starts by visiting Boston College and Florida State, neither of which are any good. Then it’s back to the Dome for an NC State team currently on the bubble, and then Jon Scheyer-led Duke. After the Blue Devils come to town, the Orange visit a good Clemson team and have a rematch with Pittsburgh. Syracuse’s final two games of the regular season are at home. A second clash with Georgia Tech then Wake Forest in the finale (also G-Mac and Hakim Warrick’s jersey retirement ceremony).
Honestly, assuming health this shouldn’t be a tough month. Syracuse won’t beat Duke, and probably will have trouble with the Tigers in South Carolina. Other than that? The Orange have already beaten the Eagles, the Seminoles are not good, the Wolfpack are the road team, and they should not lose to the Panthers again. That leaves a bad Yellow Jackets team in Central New York and the Demon Deacons on the day of the ceremony (you don’t lose that game, you just don’t). Syracuse should go 6-2 down the stretch, which gives us 19-12 overall and 12-8 in ACC play.
Expect a typical Syracuse performance at the ACC Tournament. A win on Wednesday, a loss on Thursday. Anything less would be a massive disappointment, anything more would be a wonderful surprise.
So if these predictions are 100% accurate (and the odds of that are slim), SU is 20-13 and 13-9 heading into Selection Sunday. Yay? It’s a step forward from last year, but in the end, too many bad losses for a realistic shot at March Madness.