Beavers executed to max

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

The curtain rises at high noon Wednesday for the Syracuse University men’s basketball team and its considerable challenge to make some noise during this week’s ACC Tournament at Greensboro, N.C.

The eighth-seeded Orange (15-8 overall, 9-7 league) will face No. 9 North Carolina State (13-9, 9-8) in the second round. Head coach Jim Boeheim’s crew realizes that nothing short of a three-game winning streak in the event — or make the championship game — is necessary in order to receive an at-large berth into the 68-team NCAA Tournament.

Because SU did not earn a Quad 1 win, or essentially beating a Top 30 school during the regular season, it means the Orange has to stay alive as long as possible in the conference postseason tournament to sway the NCAA Selection Committee for an invite to the Big Dance on Sunday.

If you are a fan of early afternoon basketball, then SU got a favorable draw. But in terms of the bracket, the Orange’s draw in the upper part of the ACC field is clearly lined with possible fierce opponents.

If SU can beat N.C. St. for a third time this season in Wednesday’s second-round matchup at noon, it then would have to face top-seed Virginia (17-6, 13-4) in Thursday’s quarterfinals also with a noon tip-off.

Now, if you are truly optimistic and clearly bleed Orange in your veins with an upset victory over Virginia, SU’s next game would be in Friday’s semifinals at 6:30 p.m., most likely against either No. 4 Georgia Tech (15-8, 11-6) — which enters as the ACC’s hottest team with a six-game winning streak — or No. 5 Clemson (16-6, 10-6). No. 12 Pitt (10-11, 6-10) and No. 13 Miami (8-16, 4-15) are also part of that upper bracket, but both schools are very unlikely to make a deep postseason run.

Prediction: SU has enough shooters and assuming it can make shots, especially Alan Griffin to name a prominent and most consistent threat, and defend the rim reasonably well, it should beat N.C. St. However, Virginia — which remains the defending national NCAA champion from the 2019 season after last year’s tourney was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic — is another story. The Cavs should end the Orange’s task of qualifying for the NCAAs.

n From columnist Dwight Perry of The Seattle Times — Coleman Bentley of GolfDigest.com, after the NBA’s Timberwolves fell to a .39307 all-time winning percentage Feb. 28, supplanting the NFL’s Buccaneers (.39321) as the worst in major American professional sports: “So we can safely go ahead and crown the T-Wolves as the WOAT.”

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

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