BC 62, Cuse 59: Was This Syracuse's Worst Loss Ever?

Rich Barnes

While I can get onboard with the thought that Syracuse "needed" to lose before the NCAAT, I could never get onboard with the thought of them losing at home to such a lowly team as Boston College. My buddy and I exchanged texts before the game discussing which upcoming games they might lose and he even asked why I was overlooking BC. My simple response was that "BC is garbage." Apparently SU didn't get that memo. While their offense and overall play has been rather atrocious since the Duke outing (one of the best games ever!) I am fairly sure that nobody would have bet big on BC leaving the Dome victorious yesterday. If you did, I hope you're not reading this and instead bathing yourself with your winnings.

But I digress... this loss got me thinking: is this the worst loss that SU has ever endured? The worst loss that SU has been part of, in my opinion, still has to be the 1991 Richmond Spider bite they suffered as they became the first NCAA #2 seed to ever bow out in the first round. I may have cried more tears of sorrow for that loss than for my great-aunt who had died a few days earlier. From a pure magnitude/statistical/ranking perspective, I have to say the BC loss is the worst. When you factor in that SU was 25-0 and ranked #1 while BC was 6-19 with only ACC wins over fellow cellar dweller VT to their credit, this is an upset of the highest magnitude.

I went back through the annals of Syracuse history and found that SU has lost only once at home as the #1 team. They've actually only lost 5 times previously as the #1 team. Here is how they have fared on the road in the past as top dogs:

  • 11/21/87 lost 93-96 vs #3 UNC (Tip-Off Classic)
  • 11/30/87 lost 69-80 at #17 Arizona (still #1 after a loss 9 days earlier?)
  • 3/6/10 #1 SU lost 68-78 at unranked Louisville (UL 20-11 at time of game, ended season 20-13)
  • 1/21/12 #1 SU lost 58-67 at unranked Notre Dame (ND 12-8 at time of game, ended season 22-12)

So the losses to Louisville and Notre Dame came on the road and while those teams didn't end the season as world beaters, they certainly finished better than BC will this year. The lone home loss as #1 prior to last night occurred on 1/6/90, when #1 SU lost 74-93 to unranked Villanova, 13-12 at the time and ended the season 18-15. You can read more about this upset here if you'd like. This was a pretty bad one, considering the margin of defeat, but I still say BC is worse because Villanova ended the season as an NCAA tournament team, and already had a few decent wins prior to their upset.

Here are some other notable home losses where SU was highly ranked but none of these losses were to teams as bad as Boston College. Maybe you remember throwing something at the TV or your family pet with some of these games:

  • On 2/12/80 #2 SU lost 50-52 to unranked Georgetown (Gtown ended season 26-6)
  • On 2/14/10 #2 SU lost 60-66 to unranked Louisville (UL 16-9 at time of loss)
  • On 3/8/92 #3 SU lost by 10 to unranked Villanova (Nova was 14-13 at time of loss, ended season 14-15)
  • On 1/2/10 #5 SU lost 72-82 to unranked Pittsburgh
  • On 11/26/03 #7 SU lost 92-96 to unranked Charlotte
  • On 1/25/11 #9 SU lost by 22 to unranked Seton Hall
  • On 12/8/01 #9 SU lost by 14 to unranked NC State
  • On 2/7/98 #19 SU lost by 24 to unranked Seton Hall

There have been many bad road losses, but as the old adage goes, the road is a b1tch. That's an adage, right? The first game I will mention is probably up there in top 5 of bad losses to a team almost equally as bad as Boston College, but again, this was on the road for SU, and SU was not even ranked, so I discount it more than last night's debacle:

  • On 3/2/06 unranked SU lost by 39 at DePaul (12-14)
  • On 12/26/97 #19 SU lost by 32 at unranked Michigan (UM 9-3 at time, 25-9 end of season)
  • On 2/10/00 #4 SU lost 69-82 at unranked Louisville (UL 13-9 -> 19-12)
  • And of course last year's futility attempt vs. Georgetown on 3/9/13, #17 SU lost 39-61 there.

In my opinion, this is easily the worst home loss ever for Syracuse. Is it the worst loss ever? That is debatable, but if anyone does not have this game in their top 5, then they need their head checked. The odd thing is that despite this atrocity, should SU somehow beat Duke at Cameron, I feel the two would be nullified and SU could even maintain their #1 ranking (not that it matters). But to beat Duke at Cameron.. well.. I'm not sure I nor the coaching staff have the answer there.

Add your comments for your own worst loss thoughts below. If you have any details on other #1 seeds falling similarly, I'd like to see that too.

Credit goes to for opponent details and for historical SU information.

Caveat: I am only talking about the Big East/modern day Syracuse teams, so my analysis only went back about 30 years or so.