Well, that was depressing. We can’t even get out of January before the season can be declared over. With a 55-51 loss to Georgia Tech once again showcasing Syracuse’s inability to do anything but lay bricks on the offensive end, this is the earliest I can ever remember the “Road to the Final Four” completely caving in.
Yes, I realize that a surprisingly strong finish and/or a miraculous run through the ACC Tournament could land the Orange in the field. But let’s be real, this offense is pulling that off?
Anyone who covers or follows this team knows how bad the offense is, so I won’t rehash the numbers. But, the point needs to be made that a team that stinks this bad on offense through 22 games isn’t going to magically figure it out in the final 10.
Making matters worse, the easy part of the schedule is over. Two wins against Pitt (0-10 ACC, 8-15 overall) and beating Boston College (3-6 ACC, 13-9 overall) isn’t going to help our resume. Our other win against Virginia Tech (5-4 in ACC, 16-6 overall) looks solid, but losses to Wake Forest (2-8 ACC, 9-13 overall) and Notre Dame (3-6 ACC, 13-9 overall) negate that.
To recap, the Orange is 4-5 through nine conference games and six of those game have been against the five worst teams in the conference. Uh-Oh.
With six games remaining against teams ranked in or just outside of the AP Top 25, the second half of conference play is going to be a lot more difficult to successfully navigate.
Let’s go ahead and play Nostradamus. In an ideal world, Syracuse would maybe win five of its last nine. I think that’s a stretch, but for argument’s sake, that would put them at 20-11 overall and 9-9 in conference. While 20 wins is certainly working in our favor, that conference record would likely have the Orange finishing 9th or 10th in the ACC. Unless two of those wins are against the four ranked opponents left, I can’t see the Orange getting in.
In all likelihood the Orange will be somewhere around 7-10 in ACC play and 18-13 overall. NIT here we come!
And you know what? That’s okay. We get lost sometimes following a major program with a winning pedigree and forget that at some point you need to have a down year. We knew this coming into the season. An early season run against lesser teams gave false hope, but this team was expected to be right where it currently sits. In that light, this season has been a successful one.
Despite losing a graduate transfer and suffering countless injuries, this team has competed every single night and thrived on the defensive end. Despite horrendous offensive outings, this squad has only suffered two double-digit losses. Both of those were to ranked opponents.
With the losing, Tyus Battle’s draft stock has slipped drastically, making it realistic to think he’ll be back next season. Bring him and the freshmen back next year with the incoming recruits, and the road back to the big dance might not be so bumpy.