As we know it, the Syracuse Orange sit at 13-6 on the season and 2-4 in the ACC currently. With the extended break in between games we figured it would be a good time to ask whether the Orange will make the NCAA Tournament or fall just shy for a second straight season.
Syracuse is squarely on the bubble according to most bracketologists but there’s still plenty of basketball to be played. Opportunity knocks, but before the rest of the ACC season plays out, the nunes staff gathered ‘round for another roundtable.
At this point, I can’t see Syracuse making the NCAA Tournament unless something drastic changes or they win the ACC Tournament. There’s just not enough offense to counter the fact that most other teams in the ACC this year are pretty solid at both ends of the floor. They have weaknesses, sure, but the Orange are relying on super human efforts of Battle and the Zone to keep things close versus middle of the pack conference teams. All of that comes with the biggest pinches of salt; I could totally see Howard Washington continuing to grow and Brisset figuring out his decision making/shooting enough to have a defensive run deep into the ACC tournament. There’s not much separating the top of the middle of the conference, Syracuse just hasn’t yet shown it has the offensive ability to rise to the top.
Syracuse will be returning to the big dance this year. Despite the lack of shooting and limited bench support, the Orange have the talent to make some noise in March. They still have four top 25 matchups ahead of them, and we all know that any win in the ACC, the nation’s best conference, is one to be proud of. If the Orange can find any offensive spark in March, they won’t be a team anyone wants to face.
I think Syracuse finds a way into the NCAA Tournament but the Orange will be heading to Dayton for a First Four game. The remaining schedule gives them opportnunities to improve the resume and I think this week give Jim Boeheim the time to tweak the offense enough to provide a boost down the stretch.
I think Syracuse is actually going to squeak into this thing and here’s why. The Orange have a solid resume still despite the loss column headed on an upward trajectory. Although its RPI has slipped of late, Syracuse still ranks 41 in RPI, has a SOS of 16 and a non-conference SOS of 22.
Resume wins are tiered into four quadrants now placing more emphasis road and neutral games. While at home, the non-conference wins over Buffalo and Maryland should have some staying power come Selection Sunday. Including the two aforementioned games, Syracuse has six top-100 wins currently over Iona, Toledo, Virginia Tech and Connecticut on a neutral. Jim Boeheim’s team doesn’t have any bad losses, either.
Of course, there’s work to be done and Syracuse will likely have to beat someone it probably shouldn’t, preferably on the road. Syracuse has a win on a neutral against UConn and a win on the road against Georgetown, but if history has taught us anything Syracuse will have to beat someone on the road in the ACC or at minimum, pick up a win or two in the ACC Tournament.
NO. Harder than ever to come at-large out of the ACC in the lower half.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has become absurdly hard to navigate through. Even now we’re seeing Duke haul in three top recruits for next year’s class, a year seemingly full of hope for the Orange with its own strong (but incomparable) haul of Darius Bazley. For now, Syracuse sits at the bottom of the league’s winning teams with Virginia Tech. A scare against Pittsburgh at home, if lost, would have completely knocked SU out of the tournament with no need for this roundtable. Instead, 2017-18 is feeling like the two seasons before it, completely in limbo.
Here’s the deal. This team is sensational on defense, so good that I’d put them toe-to-toe with any other defensive power in all of the NCAA. We saw that potential flash against Virginia before three straight outside bombs handed the Cavaliers the game. That’s the fatal flaw of this Orange team, as ridiculously good as they are on defense, its efforts on that end are negated by Tyus Battle’s inability to handle at a high level, Frank Howard’s turnovers, Oshae Brissett’s inefficiency and a front court that brings little-nothing to the offensive end.
So the team will once again fall right on the edge of tourney contention. The 2016 team saw Tyler Lydon emerge as a contributor, was experienced and could score landing it a premier win at Duke. The team lost four straight, but its 6-0 start with two top-25 wins is underrated in evaluations of that team. They weren’t as shaky early on as this squad was. 2017 is more comparable, despite massive home wins over Florida State, Virginia and Duke bad losses and a poor road resume held a defensively inept Orange squad out.
Now, one-sided again with little improvement in sight, it’s hard to envision Syracuse picking up a win in Miami, Duke or even Louisville. Losses to Notre Dame, St. Bonaventure at home could weigh SU’s clout by year’s end with little to counteract it. This is a rock-solid team, reminiscent of Syracuse teams we’re used to, but the offensive pitfall makes it hard for them to close these games the team is competitive in. For that, they’ll likely miss March.
Now it’s your turn, Orange Nation. Is Syracuse going dancing or will it be left out come Selection Sunday? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.