Here. We. Go.
The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (18-11, 9-9) enter the 2023 ACC Tournament as the ninth-seed and will face off against the eight-seeded NC State Wolfpack (19-10, 9-9) today at 2:00 pm
The Orange are projected to finish as the very last team in the 2023 NCAAW Tournament per ESPN’s latest bracketology update. Coming off a disastrous campaign in 2021-2022, the Orange have a chance at redemption for the program in the first ear under coach Felisha Legette-Jack.
It’s simple: win and Syracuse is (mostly) in, while a loss could mean the end to the season for the Orange.
Can ‘Cuse hang on against the Wolfpack? Here’s what to watch for in the highest-stakes game of the year for the Orange so far.
Question #1: How does momentum impact the matchup between both teams?
A lot has changed for both Syracuse and NC State since the last time they faced off against each other on New Year’s Day, with the Orange falling just short in a 56-54 home loss to the Wolfpack. NC State was considered the sixth-best team in the country per the AP poll, while Syracuse began to show signs of weakness against the ACC’s best of the best.
And then, Syracuse caught fire the past few weeks with major wins over then-#22 North Carolina and Miami while playing mostly well against ranked opponents like Notre Dame and Florida State. Meanwhile, NC State is just 3-4 in its last seven games with a mixed resume that features a win against now-#18 North Carolina but with losses to #13 Duke, to duds against #8 Virginia Tech, a surprise loss to Virginia, and only a five-point home win against Pittsburgh after the Orange throttled the Panthers by 30 points on the road.
In this game, momentum matters over almost any other factor.
24 hours until tip-off vs. the Pack⏳ pic.twitter.com/APb74yBWCP— 'Cuse Hoops (@CuseWBB) March 1, 2023
Question #2: Will we see another defensive battle or a high-scoring contest?
In their last matchup together, both teams combined for 39 turnovers while each program shot below 34% from the field in a defensive, slow-tempo slugfest. A 23-6 run in the third quarter propelled the Orange out ahead in the New Year’s Day matchup, but the Wolfpack held Syracuse to 5 points on 2/15 shooting in the fourth quarter to starve off an upset.
Syracuse currently ranks as the third-highest-scoring offense in the ACC but is forking over the second-most points to opponents. Meanwhile, NC State ranks seventh in the conference in both points per game and opponent points per game. Compared to last time, especially on a neutral court and with better shooting luck, expect this to be more of a higher-scoring affair.
Question #3: Will Syracuse’s fastbreak offense be available as an offensive option?
The possession game will be the deciding factor, both in terms of the Orange securing defensive rebounds while thriving with its fastbreak offense. Unfortunately for Syracuse, NC State has the fourth-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference, so that option just might not be there. If that’s the case, someone outside of Dyaisha Fair will need to reach 18-20 points and serve as a second shot creator.
Tip-off between #9 Syracuse and #8 NC State is at 2 pm EST in Greensboro on the ACC Network.
TNIAAM community: hold your breath folks, because this projects to be a back-and-forth conference postseason classic. Can the Orange survive and advance, or will their game against the Wolfpack be potentially their last of this season? Leave your thoughts down below.