Last night’s disastrous effort against Boston College was the Syracuse Orange’s 10th ACC loss of the season. With that, it not only deals a pretty tough blow to SU’s NCAA Tournament hopes, but it also means the Orange have locked up their first losing conference record in over a decade.
Syracuse has finished .500 a few times in there. But the last time the Orange were below .500 in league play was back in 2005-06, when they went 7-9 and wound up with a 9-seed in the Big East Tournament.
You may recall what happened next. That Syracuse team wound up winning four games in four days (the first to ever do so in that league), upsetting Cincinnati, UConn, Georgetown and Pitt in the process. Gerry McNamara’s status as a folk hero expanded beyond the 315.
This is not to draw too much of a comparison between that 2006 team that won the Big East, and this one. That team was deep, had 10 players that could play meaningful minutes if needed, and was also led by a long list of veterans. Obviously, this year’s not that. A young Syracuse team has been dragging five healthy bodies from game to game for months. And asking the starters on this roster to play 40 minutes per game on consecutive nights after a season in which they’ve played 40 minutes most nights as it is? It’s downright unlikely.
All the same, it’s a reminder insane things have happened for this program (and others) before. And if that’s what it takes to stay invested in this team for at least another week or so, that’s fine.
Where things might depart toward a much more sour note is if we also lose to Clemson on Saturday. That would make Syracuse 7-11 in the ACC, four games under .500. Unlike the 2006 season, where SU just missed an even mark, this would be far more uncharted territory. In fact, SU has never been four games under .500 in league play, dating back to the start of the Big East.
That also means we have no historical narrative to tell us what could happen when SU is four games under .500 in league play. In all likelihood, it means nothing good. But based on how this team’s hustled all year and played above their skill level, there’s still that small glimmer of hope. I’m willing to entertain it, even for just a little bit longer.