Syracuse will finish off its regular season when it hosts Clemson on Wednesday, Mar. 3 at 5:00 p.m. (TV: ACCN). Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Saugat Sen gives his predictions below.
Season Record: 5-2
In their previous matchup on Feb. 6, Clemson routed Syracuse, 78-61, with Aamir Simms leading the Tigers with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Including that win over SU, Clemson has won five straight and are the third highest ACC team in the NCAA NET Rankings at 33. The Orange, on the other hand, are squarely on the NCAA bubble and ranked No. 55.
With only 1 Quadrant 1 win, the Orange will need this Q2 win against Clemson to separate themselves from other bubble teams. As of today, here is the Quadrant breakdown for Syracuse:
- Q1: 1-6
- Q2: 3-1
- Q3: 7-1
- Q4: 11-0.
While the Orange has no “bad losses,” the team also has no “great wins” either. The sole Quadrant 1 win is an away win at NC State on Feb. 9, and with a NET ranking of 75 for NC State, the Q1 win is tenuous and could easily morph back into a Q2 win by Selection Sunday.
The same goes for SU’s other win over the Wolfpack at home on Jan. 31, which for the moment counts as a Quad 2 win. If NC State were to fall even one spot in the NET rankings, it would result in zero Quad 1 wins and only two Quad 2 wins for the Orange.
Put simply: Syracuse fans should be rooting for NC State from here on out.
As for Wednesday night’s game, another Quadrant 2 win would boost the Orange. And with the potential for Clemson to move into the top 30 down the road, it could possibly change into a Quadrant 1 win.
Syracuse, however, will need to continue to ride the hot hand and give the bench a chance.
» Related: Syracuse holds off North Carolina to keep NCAA hopes alive
In their win over North Carolina on Monday, reserve center Jesse Edwards played a season high 24 minutes before fouling out, and backup point guard Kadary Richmond played 31 minutes, contributing six points, nine assists and four steals before leaving with a leg injury.
Richmond’s minutes came at the expense of Joe Girard III, who only played 10, the lowest he’s played since he arrived at Syracuse. In contrast, the 31 minutes played by Kadary Richmond was the most minutes he has played since early December.
If Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim chooses to play Richmond and Edwards for heavy minutes again, the Orange will be able to upset Clemson. With the season on the line, I see Boeheim leaning on his bench again, and the size of Edwards will be enough to neutralize Simms as Syracuse wins 72-68 to tack on their fourth Q2 win of the season.
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