Two early season losses could be bad harbinger for Syracuse basketball

Syracuse has struggled to start the season
Syracuse has struggled to start the season

We are six games into the 2016-17 basketball season, and already the Orange has already lost two games. While these two games came against No. 17 Wisconsin and South Carolina, a pair of BCS teams, it’s clear that Syracuse has a lot to work on as the season progresses.

This begs the question: How much of an indicator are early season losses to a team’s overall success? With this question in mind, I looked back in time at the previous 10 seasons to see how long it took for the team to pick up its second loss, and then compared it with its overall finish:

Year Games to Second Loss End of season Result
2016-17 6 ?
2015-16 8 NCAA: Final 4
2014-15 7 Postseason Ban
2013-14 27 NCAA: First Round
2012-13 20 NCAA: Final Four
2011-12 33 NCAA: Elite 8
2010-11 20 NCAA: Second Round
2009-10 26 NCAA: Sweet 16
2008-09 18 NCAA: Sweet 16
2007-08 6 NIT: Quarterfinals
2006-07 9 NIT: Quarterfinals

» Related: Wisconsin nightmare haunts Syracuse basketball again

So from this chart, there are a few conclusions you can draw:

  • There does seem to be some kind of correlation from “games to second loss” to how the team fared that year. The obvious exception is the 2015-16 Final Four team, which surprised even the most optimistic of Syracuse fans. Otherwise, Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament teams all had double digit games before its second loss.
  • What’s also concerning is that if you look at the past 10 seasons, there is only one other team that only played six games before its second loss, and that is the Jonny Flynn/Donte Greene team that ended up missing the tournament completely.
  • I’m fairly certain the 2014-15 team without the self-imposed postseason ban would’ve been headed toward the NIT, as well. And they were at seven games, which is only one better than the current team.
  • Stretching outside of this 10 year mark, there are two other important teams to note. The “2005-06 Gerry McNamara Big East Tournament Miracle Team” needed McNamara’s magic run to make the NCAA Tournament. That team was at five games before its second loss. The 2003 National Championship team needed 15 games, which once again is another successful SU team that had double-digit games before its first loss.

Will this season follow suit? Well, the answer is it’s too early to tell. But if past teams are a factor in your prediction, then perhaps this isn’t the team we’d all thought they’d be.

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for covering the New York Knicks, as well as for covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]