Yesterday was brutal for Syracuse fans. It was an embarrassing loss. There is no other way to put it. SU’s 103-67 defeat against UNC was the worst for the Orange since joining the ACC. For ‘Cuse fans, this loss shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Entering the contest, Syracuse had lost every game against ranked teams and every game it was expected to lose. However, none of the prior losses were anywhere close to as bad as this.
But why aren’t the Orange built to beat teams like North Carolina? Well, the answer isn’t straightforward. There are a lot of different factors behind SU’s struggles in big games. Adrian Autry is still in his first year, figuring out how to be a head coach. But that is the least of the worries right now for the Orange. The roster construction is what needs to change for the Orange to get back to the glory days.
Maliq Brown has been great this year. But against Armando Bacot, Zach Edey or other elite big men, he isn’t good enough and he just simply doesn’t have enough help. SU got dominated by North Carolina in the paint yesterday, The Tar Heels outrebounded the Orange by 23.
The issues with roster construction extend all the way out to the perimeter. Without a consistent three-point shooter the Orange’s offense just isn’t dangerous. When facing top 25 teams, the offense averages just 61.5 points. Against UNC yesterday, SU went 4-19 from deep. To beat great teams, you have to make more than four three-pointers.
This team has what it takes to beat bad teams and even beat good teams. SU has done that already this year with wins against Pittsburgh, Boston College, and Oregon. There’s a chance the Orange can even win enough games to make it to the NCAA tournament. But this year’s team just hasn’t shown what takes to beat great teams.