The Syracuse Orange successfully began their inaugural ACC campaign with a 49-44 win over Miami.
Well, kind of successfully.
Giving the Orange fits, and a dose of their own medicine, Miami’s matchup zone prevented Syracuse from getting into any kind of offensive flow but solid defense, clutch baskets from C.J. Fair and Rakeem Christmas and Trevor Cooney shaking off his 2-of-12 performance from the field to sink a couple timely free throws sealed the hard-fought victory.
Syracuse (14-0, 1-0 ACC) kept its No. 2 ranking in both major polls and was part of the trio of Big East newcomers to take out their first ACC opponents with Notre Dame’s win over Duke and Pittsburgh’s win over North Carolina State.
The No. 2 team in the country, however, should not have struggled so mightily with Miami, indicating that perhaps they are a little overrated. That doesn’t mean they won’t end up being the best team in the country by year’s end. A good sign of this was an astute observation by Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard.
Waters pointed out that not including Syracuse, the top nine teams in the AP poll are a combined 111-3. Of those three losses, two were to Syracuse (No. 7 Baylor and No. 8 Villanova).
Maybe the rest of the poll is a little overrated, too.
Regardless, the Orange must shake off their poor offensive performance quickly with a trip to Virginia Tech on Tuesday and then a voyage back home to face North Carolina on Saturday.
While the Orange showed poise in handling Miami in the closing minutes, there were also issues that will need to be addressed such as how they will play against other teams that try to employ a zone defense and how to deal with Trevor Cooney off-nights.
With that in mind, we take a look at the concerns the Orange have going into ACC play.