The Syracuse Orange are currently 19-11 (9-8). That's good enough to have them in the conversation for something like a 9-seed or 10-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Of course, as Orange fans might remember from a few years back, nothing's guaranteed when you're in this position so from here on out every game matters and every win is critical.
So while it might be hyperbole to say that the squad's season-ending game against the Florida State Seminoles is a "must-win," Michael Gbinije and the team are treating it like one all the same.
"It's big,'' Gbinije said. "I was just telling them it's a must-win. Every loss is going to hurt us from here on out and every win is going to help us. We just want to try our best to put ourselves in good position.''
"He said 'Every game is important for us','' SU freshman Malachi Richardson said. "If you lose, you're just about done. We definitely need this one.''
Beyond the obvious value of a road victory in the ACC in the eyes of the NCAA Tournament, the result will also have an effect on ACC Tournament seeding. As of this writing (Tuesday evening), the Orange are the No. 8 seed in the Louisville-less brackets. They're a half-game behind Pittsburgh and Clemson and a half-fame ahead of Virginia Tech. A loss probably doesn't harm the Orange too much as they'll play the same game whether they're the 8-seed or the 9-seed. But a win could send them to a 7-seed, which gives them a later start and an easier opponent.
Update: And of course I should have waited....
With that loss by Clemson, Cuse moves up to 7 seed in the ACC Tourney. Would match-up with GTech at 7pm on Wed. It can all change of course.— SUJuice.com (@TheJuiceOnline) March 2, 2016
If for nothing else, the Orange could use the win just as a motivator, to remind them that they have a shot in the ACC Tournament and they belong in the NCAAs. A loss doesn't close the door, but it puts that much more pressure on the team to make a run in the ACC Tournament against a field of teams they've struggled against for the most part.