Syracuse will play the final road game of its its 2017-18 basketball season on Wednesday evening against Boston College. Ahead of the game, here are three things to look out for.
CAN SYRACUSE BOUNCE BACK OFFENSIVELY?
Syracuse struggled against a Duke team that came in as one of the poorer defending teams in the NCAA. The Blue Devils give up 69.6 points per game, 109th in the country, but head coach Mike Krzyzewski took a page out of Jim Boeheim’s playbook, playing zone throughout Saturday evening, befuddling the Orange offense.
Syracuse tied a season low with 44 points, shooting just 31.5 percent from the field and 6-25 from downtown. The Orange’s ‘Big 3’ of of Tyus Battle, Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett shot a combined 10-39 from the field.
Syracuse has been held to under 50 points two other times this season and has bounced back with better offensive performances in its next game.
Following a 49 point showing against Notre Dame, the Orange scored 61 against Virginia, who had the time boasted the best defense in the country. One game after those save Cavaliers held the Orange to 44 points, SU responded with a 78 point showing in a critical road win over Louisville.
Can Syracuse have a similar rebound performance against Boston College?
CAN SYRACUSE KEEP THE EAGLE SHOOTERS IN CHECK?
Boston College was one of the few teams Syracuse in the ACC the Orange enjoyed a dominant offensive performance against.
Syracuse shot 60.4 percent from the field and an anomalous 7-16 from downtown on Jan. 24 in a rare 81-63 rout. In that win, SU got standout performances from Tyus Battle (24 points) and Frank Howard (18), and rare double-figures from Paschal Chukwu (14) and Marek Dolezaj (12).
The Orange will need performances like that again, while holding sharpshooters Jerome Robinson (44.5 percent from downtown), Ky Bowman (34.6) and Jordan Chatman (39.5) in check. Bowman and Chatman combined for 9-18 shooting from beyond the arc in the first meeting.
WHAT IS THE NCAA TOURNAMENT IMPACT?
A win would keep a 9-9 regular season ACC record in play, and still keep a glimmer of hope in an NCAA bid.
Realistically, the Orange need to defeat the Eagles, win in the season finale and likely its first-ever ACC Tournament win to put itself in a serious conversation for the NCAA Tournament.
A loss, on the other hand, would be a ‘bad’ loss come selection time. The Eagles are currently 96th in the ESPN RPI rankings, with the Orange holding at 45.
Lose this game, and a deep ACC Tournament run would be the only way to save its postseason hopes.