From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
Following a five-day layoff from game action, the Syracuse University men’s basketball team is heading into the vital homestretch of the regular season.
It begins with tonight’s home game against North Carolina State, the first of six games remaining in the regular season.
SU (15-10 overall, 8-6 ACC) currently sits tied for seventh place in the ACC standings with Duke and North Carolina, and this final portion of the slate will determine the team’s seeding for the league postseason tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
The 15 wins are in the good column for the Orange, which is a certain bet to exceed last season’s victory total of 16.
However, a good share of SU’s 10 setbacks are mostly agonizing and could play a major factor in keeping the program out of the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season.
SU is 4-5 in games decided by five points or less.
Earlier painful setbacks against Virginia, North Carolina, Miami and Pittsburgh definitely put SU into scramble mode, but there’s still three weeks to recover.
After North Carolina State, SU has Duke, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest left at home, and travels to Clemson and Pitt. The pair of road games will be difficult against programs that have spent time in the AP Top 25 poll.
Times colleague Josh St. Croix, who covers the Orange, says SU was No. 96 in NCAA Net Ranking entering this past weekend, 0-5 record in Quad 1 games, and 1-7 in Quads 1 and 2 combined.
Five of final six games are against teams with higher net rankings and better ACC records: vs. North Carolina State (43rd in NET), vs. Duke (29th), Clemson (69th), Pitt (51st), and Wake Forest (66th). The only exception is Georgia Tech (225).
SU is 8-1 against teams with a lesser conference record and 0-5 against teams higher in the ACC standings.
Regardless of the situation, SU’s best scenario — and also the most daunting — to reach the Big Dance will be to win the ACC Tournament’s automatic berth.
That equates to capturing five games in five days (if seeded 10th or lower) or four victories in four days (if seeded from fifth to ninth).
That’s a tall order for a youthful, freshman-oriented SU team, which has been inconsistent this season.
According to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, SU is not in the 68-school field but there’s time to amend and adjust brackets, with Selection Sunday less than four weeks away.
Projected ACC schools in the Big Dance include: Virginia (No. 3 seed), Miami (5), Duke (7), NC St. (8), Pitt (8), Clemson (11) and North Carolina (last four in at No. 11). Wake Forest is one of the last eight schools out.
SU’s postseason drive begins tonight at the JMA Wireless Dome and everyone knows it.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.