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Syracuse looks for first above-.500 regular season finish since 2012

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Doing so is probably crucial to making the NCAA Tournament this year.

NCAA Basketball: Miami-Florida at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, and welcome to the space previously occupied by “Syracuse looks to avoid XXth straight 2-4 finish.” The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team went 3-3 over the final six games of the regular season last year to break a seven-year streak of 2-4 finishes. But they still haven’t managed a record above .500 over the final six games since joining the ACC. The last time they managed the feat was 2011-12, when they went 6-0 to end the regular season.

We’ll get to who they’ll need to beat this time around to make an above-.500 record happen, but first, here’s how the last eight regular seasons have closed out:

2013 (2-4)

  • Wins - DePaul, Providence
  • Losses - Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, Georgetown

2014 (2-4)

2015 (2-4)

2016 (2-4)

  • Wins - Boston College, NC State
  • Losses - Louisville, Pitt, North Carolina, Florida State

2017 (2-4)

  • Wins - Duke, Georgia Tech
  • Losses - Pitt, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Louisville

2018 (2-4)

  • Wins - Clemson, Miami
  • Losses - NC State, North Carolina, Duke, Boston College

2019 (2-4)

  • Wins - Louisville, Wake Forest
  • Losses - Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Clemson

2020 (3-3)

  • Wins - Georgia Tech, Pitt, Boston College
  • Losses - Miami, North Carolina, Louisville
NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Clemson Andersen Independent Mail-USA TODAY NETWORK

At 11-6 right now, without a quadrant 1 win, Syracuse is in a precarious spot with regard to the bubble — BUT in a potential position to play their way into the field. Remaining road games against Louisville and Georgia Tech would both qualify as quadrant 1 victories, and both Duke (road) and UNC (home) are just outside of qualifying as quad 1 wins as well. No such luck for the games against BC or Notre Dame, though at this point, you need every win you can get. And a loss against the lowly Eagles (currently 148th in NET) would qualify as the team’s first bad loss of the season.

If we assume (big assumption) that Syracuse can get pass Boston College and the Irish, the Orange would need to go 2-2 in the other games to finish above .500 down the stretch. While none of the teams remaining on the schedule are ranked, we know it’s never a simple task beating UNC, or competing on the road vs. Duke or Louisville. Even an SU team that shows itself improved the rest of the way could still wind up 1-3 against those three and Georgia Tech.

So the question is, would that be enough to contend for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid? I’d say no, since we’d be looking at probably no more than a single win in quad 1, and largely lacking a HUGE victory (Virginia Tech’s the closest right now, but is still not a quad 1 since it was a home game for the Orange).

Especially without knowing whether the ACC Tournament even happens, Syracuse is going to have to make its case along this final stretch. Though netting a quad 1 win will improve the team’s standing on the bubble, it’s still likely that they’ll need at least two of those to really start moving the needle. So I’m tempted to say that 4-2 is a minimum bar now entering the finals six games if they want to stay in contention, and obviously odds go up with each victory above that.

Does your amateur bracketology disagree with my amateur bracketology? Share your own hot bubble takes below.