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Syracuse basketball begins tougher conference slate, most efficient offense in ACC

Syracuse begins a tough stretch of conference play, but is the offense better than we think?

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse has gotten through its first five games in the ACC with a fair 3-2 record. That includes wins over Miami, Pittsburgh and Boston College and losses against Virginia Tech and the aforementioned BC Eagles. To recognize theme, those three wins came at home and two losses came on the road.

Sans performances against Georgetown and St. John’s, Syracuse has been sound at home this season. Conversely, the same cannot be said for the Orange on the road; Syracuse has yet to pick up a win away from the Carrier Dome this season, whether it be neutral or true road game. That will need to change as Syracuse will go on the road for two tough games this week.

Starting against North Carolina, the Orange will take on UNC at Chapel Hill and then travel to South Bend to take on a Notre Dame team that has yet to lose in America’s toughest conference. Syracuse dropped all three against North Carolina last season and although it beat Notre Dame (minus Demtrius Jackson), the Irish are a steady ball club and continue to make clutch plays in crunch time.

Needless to say, it won’t be much of a surprise if Syracuse drops two games this week. Next week Syracuse returns home to host Wake Forest and then turns around to host an immensely talented Florida State team that Saturday. If Syracuse can manage to win two games in this four game stretch, I’d consider it a success.

Consider this: the ACC has six ranked teams currently. Syracuse has yet to play against any of them.


To segue, if I were to tell you that through the ACC slate, Syracuse owns the most efficient offense per 100 possessions in the conference, would you believe me? Because that’s just what Syracuse has done.

It might seem contrarian in nature, but an improving 2-3 zone defense actually helps the Syracuse offense considerably. In its most recent win over BC, Syracuse scored 20 points off of as many turnovers against the Eagles. That’s 20 extra points in one game that were generated just off of playing good defense. That’s not to say Syracuse would not have scored on an ensuing possession, but it gave itself 20 extra possessions it otherwise would not have had.

To circle back to the origin of this post, also consider that Syracuse has gone through the “easy” portion of the ACC schedule. The Orange have yet to play against Louisville, Virginia and North Carolina which are all top 10 defensive teams, per Ken Pom. Expect those numbers to taper off a bit against the cream of the crop in the ACC.

That said, Syracuse has scored at least 70 points in every ACC game thus far and has shot the ball over 45 percent in each of its three conference wins. That’s solid, especially considering 42.1 and 51.9 shooting percentages from outside against Miami and Pitt, respectively.