SU Basketball is in danger of missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. The Orange were in pole position to claim win number 10 in their last 12 games. Instead, the ‘Cuse did what they seem to do every year in South Florida and blow a big lead late. Instead of a 13-6 record with a 6-2 ACC resume and a quad 1 win against a ranked team on the road, SU is 12-7, 5-3 and still winless in Q1.
Things are much more dire now for Syracuse in terms of the postseason. Coach Boeheim and Company are outside the net top 100 rankings. Obviously, you’ve got to be in the top 68 to make the tournament or at least be in the realm of discussion. There are still more chances to boost that resume and get back in the hunt but Monday night was about as blown of an opportunity as they get.
What are some of those crucial games Syracuse needs to win. Well some of them are upcoming to close out this month. In this next stretch of four games, two are at home and the other two on the road. The home matchups are very favorable and the slate works out quite well. SU needs to complete the first month of 2023 at the very least with a 3-1 record to stay alive for the Big Dance.
Jan. 21 at Georgia Tech, W
Interesting enough, GT’s last win came against a ranked Miami team but that’s their lone win over the last six games. The Yellowjackets are 8-10 overall and just 1-7 in the ACC. Georgia Tech scores just 70 points per game and is 10th or worse out of the conference’s 15 teams in three-point percentage (32%) and assists per game (13). This should be a win for the Orange although GT won the last matchup in ATL in February of 2021.
Jan. 24 vs North Carolina, W
This is a critical game for Syracuse. UNC entered the year ranked #1 in the nation but has since struggled. The Tar Heels are just 13-6 and 5-3 in conference. The defending national champs have turned up the heat lately though.
North Carolina has won four of its last five and is looking to make a run to get back to ranked status. This might be a nice upset spot for Syracuse though, UNC is not a good three-point shooting or passing team. The Heels are 12th or worse in the ACC in both of those categories. SU won the last time North Carolina came to the Dome in a “must win” situation back in 2021. The Orange have a good chance to pull the same stunt two years later.
Jan. 28 at Virginia Tech, W
Syracuse just played Va Tech last week. An 82-72 win for SU although it didn’t really feel that close at times in the second half. The Hokies were abysmal with distance shooting. Just a 16% output for Virginia Tech in the loss. Much of that was a byproduct of sharpshooter Hunter Catoor not playing. The knockdown exterior threat figures to suit up in the second matchup. However, SU already has the recipe for how to beat the Hokies and it should take care of that the second time around.
Jan. 30 vs Virginia, L
This is the only reason why SU is more trendy to finish 3-1 rather than 4-0. Another team here in UVA that Syracuse has already seen this season earlier this month. That was a 73-66 win for a ranked Cavaliers team at home. Much like the VT win for the Orange, the game in Charlottesville didn’t feel as close as it was.
Syracuse had three scorers in double figures with JG3, Judah, and not Jesse. Instead it was the hometown kid Maliq Brown reaching 10 pts while the senior center had just 4. Look for the Dutchman to have a better showing the second time around. Virginia also canned a dozen triples in that game and it might need to it again in the Dome to top the ‘Cuse. This would be a massive win if SU could pull it off and its definitely one it needs to get the discussion restarted about the postseason.