The Syracuse Orange are playing their best basketball of the 2021-22 season and that has some of you thinking about another Apology Tour. There’s a lot of basketball left to be played before Selection Sunday but let’s take a look at where the Orange are and how they get themselves back into Joe Lunardi’s head.
Syracuse enters the day ranked 86th in the NCAA’s NET rankings (and just as an FYI they dropped a spot after beating BC). They are currently ranked 72nd in KenPom and 58th in Bart Torvik’s T-Rank. For reference last season the Orange were in the 40s-50s in NET, 42nd in KenPom and 38th in the T-Rank.
In 2021 Syracuse was 7-8 in Q1/2 games and 7-1 in Q3/4 games. Right now the Orange are 4-6 in Q1/2 games and 8-5 in Q3/4 games. That last number is the troubling one as the team has 5 Q3 losses on the year and while there’s a chance Virginia moves to a Q2 loss and Florida State moves to a Q1 win let’s look at the rest of the schedule as it stands now.
However we know that nothing is impossible so what’s the road ahead look like for Syracuse? Based on today’s NET this is what’s left before the ACC Tournament:
@Virginia Tech: Q1
Boston College: Q4
Georgia Tech: Q3
@Notre Dame: Q1
@North Carolina: Q1
Let’s say that Syracuse wins out that leaves them with a 20-11 record, 8-6 in Q1/2 games with three Q1 road wins. That is going to put Syracuse on the right side of the bubble heading into the NCAA Tournament. The Orange could afford one or maybe two more losses as long as they win their opening game in Brooklyn but it starts to get trickier if the team closes at anything less than 6-2.
Why? If we asked you for a marquee win for Syracuse you’re probably pointing to the December road win at Florida State but the Seminoles sit one spot ahead of the Orange and are struggling recently. With three chances to grab a better road win and a shot at home against Duke there are chances for Syracuse to improve their resume.
Obviously beating Duke attracts more national attention but for the sake of their potential NCAA Tournament resume the Orange need to grab a Q1 road win just in case Florida State doesn’t rise to that level. I’ve seen some folks point out that finishing in the top four or five in the ACC will be enough but that’s ignoring the fact that the conference is down this year.
At this point it looks like Duke and Notre Dame are projected as single-digit seeds but even Notre Dame’s position is tenuous. The ACC is on track for only four or five bids and the Orange are competing with Virginia Tech, Wake, Miami, UNC, and Virginia for those spots. There are bigger swing games than Duke on the schedule so Syracuse needs to win games against them and then we can start watching what these other teams do.
The Orange don’t want to head to Brooklyn needing to win it all to get in so extending this winning streak to at least seven games is crucial. Can the offense continue to carry this team into the conversation? The margin for error is razor-thin now and only getting smaller.