Orange Watch: Can Syracuse take advantage of a down ACC?

Dec 7, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange center Jesse Edwards speaks to reporters following Syracuse's 67-53 loss to the Villanova Wildcats at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Bierman, The Juice Online.

Item: Heading into the hoped-for earnest start of ACC conference play next week, with only one ranked league team, there’s opportunity for Syracuse to find its groove and enough wins to make the NCAA Tournament, provided the variants of COVID-19 don’t continue to play havoc with everyday life.

With its two postponed games this past weekend against Lehigh, and Tuesday night against Cornell, and the fill-in game with another Ivy member Brown set for this coming Monday, December 27 (6:00 p.m. ET / ACCNX) at the Dome, Syracuse will have a 16-day gap between games.

Brown (8-5) provides a nice tune-up before heading into the rest of the league schedule two nights later (December 29) hosting Georgia Tech, and may result with 30 (or fewer) total games, instead of the planned 31 contests.

ACC teams are a cumulative 112-61 (64.7%) through games of December 22, and there have been relatively few standout victories along with plenty of mystifying defeats among the 15 teams.

Only Duke is ranked (second) with North Carolina and Virginia Tech receiving votes. The only one loss teams are the Blue Devils, no surprise, and Wake Forest, big surprise.

Here’s an overview:

ACC Team Best Wins Worst Defeats
Boston College Notre Dame, South Florida Albany, Rhode Island (twice)
Clemson Temple, Virginia St. Bonaventure, Rutgers
Duke Gonzaga, Kentucky  Ohio State (only loss)
Georgia Tech Georgia, Lamar Miami (OH), LSU
Florida State Missouri, Boston University South Carolina, Syracuse
Louisville Maryland, N.C. State Furman, Western Kentucky
Miami Clemson, Penn State Central Florida, Dayton
North Carolina Michigan, Georgia Tech Tennessee, Kentucky
North Carolina State Nebraska, Louisiana Tech Richmond, Wright State
Notre Dame Kentucky, High Point Saint Mary’s, Boston College
Pittsburgh St. John’s, Towson Citadel, UMBC
Syracuse Indiana, Florida State Colgate, VCU
Virginia Georgia, Providence Navy, James Madison
Virginia Tech Maryland, St. Bonaventure Dayton, Wake Forest
Wake Forest Virginia Tech, Northwestern LSU (only loss)

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Although Syracuse was able to squeeze in the much-needed makeup game against Brown, the hope that a 31st game could be rescheduled will come down to the existing ACC schedule. The only open week SU has is between February 12-19, otherwise they play every Saturday between January 1 and March 5, with another game during each of those weeks. That’s also presuming no other games are postponed/canceled as the season progresses.

With its current 5-5 record, Syracuse likely needs to beat Brown and go 13-6 in the remaining 19 ACC games to finish 19-11/14-6, and win 1-2 games in the ACC Tournament to again be on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

It seems doable in a mediocre year of conference play with the COVID monkey wrench thrown in as well, but the team is going to have get progressively better as the season advances to be in that position.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.