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Syracuse men’s basketball: Opportunities dwindling for ‘big’ wins on resume

A less-than-ideal situation has become even less ideal

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Yet another Syracuse Orange men’s basketball game was cancelled on Wednesday after Louisville had a positive test within the program. Removing the game now means Syracuse has just eight scheduled games to go in 2020-21 and at 10-5 (4-4 in ACC play), they could still use some help on the NCAA Tournament bubble once again.

We’ll chat bracketology tomorrow. But looking ahead at the rest of Syracuse’s slate, here’s what’s left (with NET rankings included):

Though it’s obviously important to just net wins the rest of the way, the issue above is that a schedule that once looked pretty harrowing at the end now features just one top-50 game (at Louisville) over the final four matchups. The ACC’s been trending downward for a couple years now, and this season has been a resounding dud for basically the entire conference save Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida State. Having historical powers Louisville, Syracuse, North Carolina and Duke all outside the top 40 at the moment is not a recipe for success in the long- or short-term.

It’s also not a recipe for SU’s NCAA Tournament resume to get a boost, either. There are “tier 1” opportunities here, of course. But as of right now, the only standout win remaining is a potential victory at Louisville. The Orange currently hold a home win over Virginia Tech (29th in NET). But beyond that, not a whole lot to brag about.

This is where what happens to the four cancelled games — Louisville, Florida State, at Wake Forest, Clemson — becomes crucial. Three of those four are solid opponents that could greatly help Syracuse’s case should SU win. And even a loss to FSU (27th in NET) isn’t going to do much harm. Wins, in general, are what’s going to help Syracuse play itself into the upper parts of the bubble. Having fewer games than normal makes that more difficult.

We saw this coming, of course. After a college football season that had little in the way of wiggle room allowed as conferences simply powered through, college basketball doubled down. When the schedule came out, it looked like there were few opportunities for postponed games to be made up given how tightly packed the slate looked. Now SU is playing eight games in under 30 days and there isn’t really enough time in between those matchups to fit in other games — without moving the entire remaining schedule around.

This also assumes no more games are pushed, either. Considering that one-third of the scheduled conference games for the Orange so far have been postponed, that seems pretty unlikely. And SU is far from the only team (bubble or otherwise) affected in this way.

The ACC could potentially opt to close out the year in a bubble and roll right into the conference tournament. Or maybe rework the schedule for the final three weeks to get everyone as many games as possible. No matter how things fall, this is less than ideal. Unlike most recent seasons, though, it won’t be entirely SU’s own fault that they’re sitting nervously on the bubble come Selection Sunday.