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To make NCAA Tournament, Syracuse likely needs to avoid seventh straight 2-4 finish

We probably wanted to either way, mind you. Now it’s sort of imperative.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at N.C. State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Right around this time last year, we noticed that the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team had finished the regular season with a 2-4 record for five straight seasons. That streak reached six after SU compiled the same W-L yet again to close out 2017-18.

Now, are we about to hit seven in a row?

It would seem the most likely result when looking at Syracuse’s remaining schedule: Louisville, Duke, at North Carolina, at Wake Forest, Virginia, at Clemson. The next three are all against ranked foes, and three games are on the road (not the same three, thankfully).

Here’s those last six seasons:


Wins - DePaul, Providence

Losses - Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, Georgetown


Wins - Maryland, Florida State

Losses - Boston College, Duke, Virginia, Georgia Tech


Wins - Louisville, Notre Dame

Losses - Pitt, Duke, Virginia, NC State


Wins - Boston College, NC State

Losses - Louisville, Pitt, North Carolina, Florida State


Wins - Duke, Georgia Tech

Losses - Pitt, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Louisville


Wins - Clemson, Miami

Losses - NC State, North Carolina, Duke, Boston College

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

At 17-8 (8-4 in league play), the Orange probably need to win three more if they want to feel safe in their NCAA Tournament hopes. Four would pretty much lock us in. This also ignores whatever happens in the ACC Tournament — which is important, too. But a 2-4 finish here lands SU at 10-8 in conference play and 19-2 overall with (likely) just one major win to its name. That team probably needs to win two ACC Tournament games to get in safely.

Of course, there’s a chance this team can go 2-4 and also notch the requisite wins to lock up a bid. As mentioned last year, the two wins come against different teams each year. That was true once again in 2017-18. We pointed out that if the trend held, the two wins would come from the UNC, Clemson and Miami group (and they did). We also said if they won two of those, they’d be in the tournament (which they were).

Using that same rule, here’s who the choices are for the two wins over the final six:

Louisville, Duke, at North Carolina, at Wake Forest, Virginia, at Clemson

Like last time, I believe that if the trend holds (and given this weird streak, it very well may), we’d be in once again. A win against Virginia would arguably give Syracuse the two best wins (including at Duke) of any team in the country. if you added the UNC win, there’s no doubt. If it’s the Wake Forest game instead, that’s still probably fine since it adds a critical road game.

But realistically, the most likely wins remain at Wake and at Clemson. And I don’t think those are enough on their own to get SU in, despite them both being on the road. So in some ways, I guess we’re hoping that if the Orange finish 2-4, they’re once again abiding by the weird rules of this streak that makes no sense and also has nothing to do with the final outcome of the season.