Ten games. That’s how many more opportunities Syracuse basketball has to prove that it’s worthy of an NCAA tournament berth. Only four of those games are against teams currently ranked in the AP top 25 (Virginia, UNC, Duke, Clemson).
By no means does this mean the other six games will be a piece of cake. They won’t. That’s what makes college basketball so confounding. Any team at any time can pull off an upset (or be a victim of an upset). These are teenagers leading the way, after all.
Now is the time to pounce. Differentiate. Crawl out of the mid-season slog.
SU needs to use the back-end of its schedule as a proving point for the tournament committee. Plenty of major-conference teams hovering around .500 in conference play are in the same position. Now is the time to stand out.
You must win the games you can and are supposed to win. The two wins over Pittsburgh and the win over BC to carve out a three-game winning streak following a four-game slide is a good start. Keep it going. Don’t get tripped up in Atlanta against a middling Georgia Tech team that just gave Clemson a run for its money. Prove your will. Win the winnable games. That’s what good, deserving tournament teams do. Be that team.
The Orange have put itself in a position to capitalize. They’re in the game. If this team wants to make a name for itself, now is the time. The only teams worth remembering are the ones who win and go far.
Previous Cuse teams with similar records as this team have proven themselves late-season, specifically the 2015-2016 team, which was on the bubble at the end of the season and made the Final Four. As they say, just get in.
And that’s what this year’s team must do. Get in. Ten games. That’s it. Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett and Frank Howard need to keep their feet on the gas pedal. Performance time starts now.