Following the Syracuse Orange’s seven-point loss to the Virginia Cavaliers on Tuesday, there’s at least a little uneasiness about the road ahead. SU’s lost three straight now, and probably has a fourth coming up against Florida State.
This is the near-annual January swoon for the Orange. In part, it’s a fan and media construct, like the random three-point shooter or numerous other characterizations about Syracuse. Other programs have these too. We’re just obviously most attune to ours.
And yet, this one actually has a significant amount of backing in reality.
Since joining the Big East for the 1979-80 season, SU has experienced a stretch of 1-3 or worse in 28 different years. Of those, things are backloaded toward recent seasons (15 since the turn of the century). And 18 occurred (at least in part) in January. The swoon has long been a thing. However, it really started becoming a January-specific thing in 2001-02. In fact, 11 of the last 13 “swoons” since the turn of the century have been in January — versus just seven of the 15 before that.
None of that sounds great, though this should: Syracuse has made the NCAA Tournament in 18 of 28 “swoon” seasons. And even more, there’s been a swoon before three of the five Final Four trips (1987 and 2003 excepted) in this stretch.
Should this streak stretch out to four (and against a ranked Florida State squad it very well could), it would make for just the fourth time SU had a four-game losing streak “swoon.” However, the team made the NCAAs in each of the previous seasons, including the 2016 Final Four run.
So while this doesn’t paint a glowing picture overall of what SU’s done year-in and year-out, it does show that stretches like this are not only common, but they also have little bearing on the end result of the Orange’s season.