It’s the final countdown for the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (16-10, 7-8) in its pursuit of an NCAA Tournament bid in March.
The Orange continue its journey on the road against a ranked ACC opponent, traveling down to Tallahassee to take on the #24 Florida State Seminoles (20-7, 9-5). The Seminoles are coming off of back-to-back losses to Miami and #11 Virginia Tech on the road, while the Orange enter the game after suffering a nine-point road loss to #10 Notre Dame.
As of Tuesday morning, Syracuse currently sits as a “First Four Out” program in ESPN’s latest bracketology update.
Tip-off between the Orange and Seminoles is tonight at 6 pm EST, with the game available for streaming on the ACC Network.
With a potential postseason berth on the line, can the Orange secure another resume-boosting victory and keep things interesting? Here’s what to watch for between Syracuse and Florida State.
Question #1: Can the Orange overcome its scoring deficit?
Florida State’s offense against Syracuse’s defense will be the story for Thursday’s game. The Seminoles sit first in the ACC in points per game (82.6 PPG, 6.1 points more than second-best Notre Dame), while ‘Cuse ranks last in the conference in opponent points per game (67.6 points per game). Interestingly, the Seminoles do possess the third-worst scoring defense in the ACC (67.1 points per game, 0.5 behind the Orange), meaning that Florida State plays as a slightly-more talented version of Syracuse.
Unlike past games against ranked opponents, Syracuse will have to rely less on opponent shooing misfortune and more on getting itself to 75-80 points, something the Orange are capable of but not guaranteed to reach, especially on the road.
Question #2: Can Syracuse deal with a deja-vu-like opponent?
Florida State shares a lot of the similar on-court characteristics that the Orange just dealt with in its last game against Notre Dame. Like the Fighting Irish, the Seminoles rely on a hyper-efficient offense that features superb shooting from three, limiting its own turnovers, forcing steals, and generating extra possessions through offensive rebounds and second-chance points.
Syracuse was mainly able to hang close with Notre Dame partly because the team forced the Fighting Irish into careless giveaways and untimely turnovers. If those opportunities present themselves again in Tallahassee, this game will be a close (and winnable) contest for the Orange.
Question #3: Will the Orange’s second-half play make or break its chances at an upset?
The second half has been a consistent momentum swinger for the Orange all season, both for better and for worse. Earlier this season, ‘Cuse struggled to generate enough second-half offense against quality opponents like NC State and Duke. Then, the pendulum suddenly shifted in favor of the Orange. In back-to-back games against #19 North Carolina and #10 Notre Dame, Syracuse exploded for 30 points in the third quarter in each of those contests. There was enough of a scoring margin to hold on at home against the Tar Heels, but enough against Notre Dame as the Orange were outscored 21-10 in the fourth quarter en route to a loss.
If Syracuse can’t get off to a strong start right at tip-off, it’s going to need to do so in the third and fourth quarters.
TNIAAM community: Syracuse is just on the edge of postseason contention, sitting as the third-best team to just fall short of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Do you think the Orange still have enough magic in them to pull off another miracle? Leave your comments and thoughts below.