Syracuse visited Boston College on Saturday, in a matchup of Big East rivals from long ago that has lost a bit of their luster over the years. Neither team looks headed for March Madness this season barring a big run in the ACC tournament, though Syracuse has stolen some tournament bids in their history.
The Oranges are now 14-9 this season and 7-5 in the ACC. In a normal ACC year that might
get them into tournament discussion, but unfortunately, this is a down year for the
conference. One of the main considerations for the committee is how often a team has faced a
quality opponent and of course how they performed. This is how the “Quad” conversations work. A Quad 1 game is a home game vs a team ranked in the top 30 in the NCAA NET ratings, or a neutral site game vs a top 50 NET team, or a road game vs a top 75 NET team. A Quad 2 game is home vs a 31-75 ranked team, neutral vs a 51-100 ranked team, or on the road vs a 76-135 ranked team.
As of last week, Syracuse ranked a very pedestrian 100th in the NET ratings, and a better but still not tournament-worthy 85th on KenPom. They are just 0-4 in Quad 1 games, and 1-3 in Quad 2 games. Their only remotely quality win is an 82-72 home victory over 55th NET-ranked Virginia Tech. Even if
Syracuse gets hot, the down ACC year means that they will only get a handful more Quad 1
games. Home games vs 13th-ranked Virginia and 28th-ranked Duke and away games at 62nd-
ranked Pitt and 59th-ranked Clemson are the only opportunities as of now. The Pitt and Duke
games could easily drop to Quad 2 by the end of the season. If the Orange sweeps all those
games they could climb into the March Madness picture, but the KenPom prediction
model the Oranges are underdogs all four times.
Part of the problem with this year’s Orange is that they do not excel at much. The
one exception is the Orange both block shots well and avoid getting their own shots blocked.
Jesse Edwards ranked 6th in the nation with 2.8 BPG, and mostly thanks to him Syracuse’s
16.9 Block% ranked second in the nation as per KenPom. On the offensive side, the Orange
have only ceded a 6.3 Block%, 14th in the country. They do fairly well at not turning the ball
over, they just do not take particular advantage of it. While most of the nation emphasizes three-
pointers and free throws nowadays, 57.1% of their non-turnover possessions end in 2-point
shots, the 34th highest rank in that metric. It would make sense if they got a lot of two-pointers
in the paint, but they do not, as their 51% 2-point shooting percentage ranks just 143rd.
Their one exception is their best player, 4-year starter Joseph Girard III. He leads Orange
scorers with 17.0 PPG, including hitting 38.2% of the nearly eight 3-pointers he puts up per
game. He has accounted for 45% of the threes Syracuse has shot this year.
Unfortunately like New York, Massachusetts does not allow betting on regular-season college games for in-state teams. They do allow it in tournaments. Boston College will get to play in the ACC
tournament, but unless they win it they have no shot to get to March Madness. The Eagles are 10-13 overall, and 4-8 in the ACC. They rank 183rd on KenPom and 194th in NET, going 0-5 in Quad 1 games and 1-4 vs Quad 2. Just like Syracuse, their only quality win is a home victory over Virginia Tech. Despite playing in the relatively weak ACC, the KenPom model only predicts BC to win one more game, a home contest vs Georgia Tech to close the season.
While Syracuse at least looks middling at everything, BC’s does not do much of anything well.
Like the Orange, they shoot a lot of 2-pointers, 59.7% of their shots in fact. Unlike the Orange,
they shoot 3’s very poorly, 29.6% vs Syracuse’s 37.1%, thus it makes sense not to take many.
BC’s 101.0 Offensive Efficiency (Points per 100 possessions) ranks 253rd in the nation, among
the worst in Power 5, thanks mostly to a 47.6% Effective Field Goal% that ranks 299th. The only
thing they do passably is not turned the ball over, which makes some sense as defenses can
afford to sit back a bit and make BC hit some shots.
Syracuse was able to defeat BC, but there’s so much work to be done. And now much of the conversation around SU hoops is the comments Jim Boeheim has made about the team and the sport. The roller coaster continues for the Orange, but it’s likely it ends without a tournament bid again.