The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team enters ACC play at 9-4 overall, and will need to perform well in conference play to make the NCAA Tournament. We’d hoped to avoid the same fate as the last few seasons, when the Orange were bubble-bound, yet here we appear to be once again.
What’s going to happen in ACC play? The TNIAAM staff weighs in on potential W-L records over the 18-game slog:
When I first started to do this exercise, I was going to say 10-8 for Syracuse in the conference, but upon further review of the conference schedule 11-7 just seems more likely to me which would ultimately put the Orange at 20-11 going into the ACC Tournament. Pencil in three wins for Syracuse to start the new year against Notre Dame, Clemson and Georgia Tech before falling to Duke in Durham. I like Syracuse against Pitt and Miami at home, but the Orange should take an L down at Virginia Tech before wrapping up the road trip with two more wins over BC and Pitt. I actually think Syracuse will beat Florida State at home and then take down BC for a second time.
NC State snuck up on people this year and have found ways to win games, which is why Syracuse will fall down at NC State. I like Syracuse in the next game against Louisville at home before returning to the Dome to get swept by Duke. This is the part of the schedule that gets a bit dicey. Syracuse should fall to North Carolina which will complete an 0-3 effort in the research triangle. The Orange won’t go winless in the state of North Carolina this year though as it will pick up a W at Wake Forest.
Then things get tricky with a home game against Virginia and a road game at Clemson, where the Orange likely won’t be favored in either matchup. I think SU loses both which ultimately puts it at 11-7 in the conference and perhaps decent enough standing in another weak bubble year to have solid NCAA Tournament footing going into conference tournament play.
I’m picking Syracuse to go 11-7 in the ACC but they need to start fast to get there. The last part of the schedule is going to be rough so hopefully we’ll see a more effective Frank Howard by then.
Syracuse hasn’t won more than 10 games in ACC play since the 2013-14 season and I’m not betting on this year’s squad to break that trend. I have the team finishing 10-8 in ACC play. I’m not convinced that the Orange will be able to hang with the big boys of the conference the team will fail to pick up victories against Duke (twice), Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia.
Syracuse is going to need to take care of business early on as the schedule finishes tough. The closing seven games of at NC State, vs Louisville, vs Duke, at North Carolina, at Wake Forest, vs Virginia and at Clemson could have the team reeling as it enters the ACC tournament.
A look at the current ACC standings shows seven Syracuse games against ranked opponents, so conceivably the Orange could win 10 or 11 in the conference without knocking off any of the elite clubs. In a season where they lose one or two in non-conference play, this is potentially fine. Going 9-4 makes it a little more problematic, though the road win at Ohio State should pay some dividends as well.
Whether you’ve been around for one year or 40, though, you know how Boeheim’s teams handle business through this part of the schedule. Expect an upset or two, along with at least one puzzling loss. If at least one of the upsets are on the road, a 10-8 SU team is far more likely to be in the field. I think this team can do that, and also take home 11 Ws considering the relatively manageable foes. Breaking down where I think the wins and losses come from:
Wins: at Notre Dame, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Pitt, Miami, at Boston College, at Pitt, Boston College, Louisville, at Wake Forest, Virginia
Losses: at Duke, at Virginia Tech, Florida State, at NC State, Duke, at North Carolina, at Clemson
That doesn’t include the requisite big road win, mind you, so the Orange probably need an ACC Tournament win or two to lock up a bid (yes, even if they knock off UVA).
How about you? How do you see the Orange finishing in ACC play?