The Annual Syracuse Swoon: This Time, Later Than We'd Like

Rich Barnes

In the midst of yet another swoon, I thought I'd take a look back at previous seasons to see if I could find some comparisons. Why does this swoon feel worse than year's past? Should it?

Ah, the annual Syracuse Orange basketball swoon. It's a tradition unlike any other. Almost every year, it seems, at some point during conference play, the once-might Orange suddenly look frail and shoddy. And then, just like that, they work out the kinks and get back to winning.

At least that's the theory.

In the midst of yet another swoon, I thought I'd take a look back at previous seasons to see if I could find some comparisons. Why does this swoon feel worse than year's past? Should it? Should we just be used to this?

I decided to look back at every season that ended in the 2nd weekend of the NCAA Tournament or later from 1987 on (thanks, OrangeHoops). What I found was a trend that made me feel a lot better. And another trend that concerned me a great deal.

Here's the breakout by season, how the team finished, what their swoon looked like and the dates of said swoon.

Season Finish Swoon Dates
'86 - '87 Runner-Up L, L, W, W, L 1/26 - 2/9
'88 - '89 Elite Eight L, W, L, L, L 1/4 - 1/16
'89 - '90 Sweet Sixteen L, W, W, L, L 1/6 - 1/20
'93 - '94 Sweet Sixteen L, W, W, L 2/7 - 2.19
'95 - '96 Runner-Up L, L, W, W, L, L, L, W, L 12/30 - 1/29
'97 - '98 Sweet Sixteen L, W, L, L 1/13 - 1/24
'99 - '00 Sweet Sixteen L, L, W, W, L 2/7 - 2/19
'02 - '03 National Champs L, W, W, L 1/18 - 1/29
'03 - '04 Sweet Sixteen L, L, W, L, L 1/20 - 2/7
'08 - '09 Sweet Sixteen L, W, L, L, L, W, L, L, W, L 1/14 - 2/22
'09 - '10 Sweet Sixteen L, L 3/6 - 3/11
'11 - '12 Elite Eight N/A N/A
'12 - '13 Final Four L, L, L, W, L 2/23 - 3/9

So tell me if you noticed the same things as me...

  • The swoon almost always happened in January or early February. The big outlier? Last year, coincidentally.
  • For all intents and purposes, the team actually took some time off from the annual swoon after 2009 until last year. Welcome back?
  • It usually seems to last 4-5 games, relatively-speaking. It could be argued this year's squad has been swooning for a month now. Doesn't happen too often with successful SU squads.

What did we learn? I don't know. Every team is different. You could say that it would have been better for SU to falter two months ago. But you also could say that since this year's drop-off resembles last year's, we're better off. Or you could say none of those seasons really have any effect on one another.

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