Gasaway: Syracuse will be NCAA Tournament team with ‘room to spare’

Dolezaj UNC
Syracuse Orange forward Marek Dolezaj (21) goes up for a shot against North Carolina Tar Heels forward Justin Pierce (32). Mandatory Credit: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online.

A few weeks ago, I chatted with Syracuse.com’s Mike Waters about the 2020-21 Syracuse basketball season, and he was bullish on this Orange basketball team, saying they were being given much less credit than they deserve by the national media.

Well, don’t count ESPN.com’s John Gasaway in that group. Gasaway, whose book Miracles on the Hardwood: The Hope-and-a-Prayer Story of a Winning Tradition in Catholic College Basketball, is now available for pre-order and comes out March 16, expects Syracuse’s bottom line to improve on last year’s 10-10 finish in the ACC.

“If anyone’s been following along with John Gasaway, you know he’s a sucker for tracking possessions and how teams do on each possession. Syracuse was fine last year in ACC play,” Gasaway said. “They could do the exact same thing again this year and they’d have a better record in ACC play, but I expect them to do even better possession-by-possession.”

Gasaway points to Syracuse’s experience returning this year as a reason why. Everyone but Elijah Hughes returns, and the collective improvements and additions across the board should make for a “non-nervous Selection Sunday and an NCAA Tournament bid” for the Orange.

As for Gasaway’s book, it takes a close look at the rise of Catholic college basketball, from Villanova to Gonzaga, where small Catholic schools perennially shoot past the big power conference programs. In some ways, Syracuse’s chief rival, Georgetown, fits this bill.

But Gasaway was careful not to put the Hoyas in the same category as a David in the story of Goliath.

“Georgetown? No. In the 80s they […] weren’t your lovable small school,” Gasaway said. “And even they would be proud to be admit that. Hoyas? No.”

» Related: Syracuse and 2022 five-star guard Dior Johnson part ways

I then welcome on TJO Editor in Chief Brad Bierman to the podcast. We break down Syracuse’s loss to Boston College, including a start from SU’s true freshman quarterback, Jacobian Morgan. The 16-13 loss is also a good sign in that the team has not quit on head coach Dino Babers.

Brad finishes by noting that Joe Biden will be the first President to have graduated from Syracuse (c/o 1968) when he takes office in January. I close on the release of the 20-game ACC schedule that begins in mid-December and ends in March.

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Wes Cheng
About Wes Cheng 2599 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) 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. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.