After starting the season with a school record 25-straight wins, No. 7 Syracuse finds itself stumbling to the wire.
Syracuse (26-3, 13-3 ACC), with two games left in the regular season, is coming off of a road loss to then-No. 11 Virginia in which the Orange shot poorly, defended poorly and faded away as the game closed. The Orange managed a 28-27 halftime lead during Saturday’s contest but were outlasted 48-28 in the second half to end up on the wrong side of a 75-56 beatdown.
The loss to Virginia (25-5, 16-1) handed the Cavaliers their first outright regular-season ACC title in 33 years and only their second in school history. It was also the Orange’s third loss in their last four games.
Worth noting is that two of those losses were on the road to Duke, now No. 4 in the nation, and Virginia, now No. 5. The other was a head-scratching loss at home in overtime to Boston College.
What this means is that Syracuse is likely not the world beater it appeared to be when it took out the likes of Duke, Villanova and North Carolina, but the team is no bottom dweller either.
The most obvious reason the Orange are struggling is scoring. The team hasn’t scored more than 60 points since Feb. 3 against Notre Dame, which has resulted in very close games which gave Orange fans quite a thrill, but haven’t done much to please coach Jim Boeheim.
Luckily, the Orange defense has been rock solid, save for a few hiccups, which serves to keep Syracuse a formidable opponent.
If Syracuse wins its final home game of the season against Georgia Tech on Tuesday and then wins at Florida State on March 9, the Orange will be guaranteed the No. 2 seed in the ACC tournament, which starts March 12 in Greensboro, N.C.
To succeed in the ACC tournament and beyond, the Orange have a little bit of work to do. Let’s take a look at what concerns Syracuse has going into the postseason.