14 days ago, Syracuse was undefeated, a sure bet to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and the undisputed best team in the country. Today, the Orange have now lost four of five games, will be a likely three seed, and will be out of the Top 10 by Monday. Jim Boeheim, we have a problem.
Syracuse has not only lost four of five, but two of the losses have been to Boston College and Georgia Tech. Tech’s RPI ranking is 145, and Boston College’s is at 175. They were blown out in what was essentially an ACC regular season championship game by Virginia. So, how does a team like Syracuse drop so fast?
The answer to that is that they haven’t dropped that fast. It’s been a steady drop, disguised by late-game heroics and last-second shots against non-tournament and subpar teams. The problem with the Orange is that they can’t score.
Syracuse isn’t getting very many points in transition, and that’s mainly due to its 2-3 zone. The 2-3 is not conducive to creating turnovers, and it allows teams with lesser athletes to slow the game down limiting points in transition. The other problem is Syracuse simply can’t shoot. They are shooting a dismal 43 percent from the field. The Orange have one consistent threat on the outside in Trevor Cooney, and he’s been awful as of late.
Teams have figured out that Cooney can’t score if he has to take it off the bounce, and that’s what they are forcing him to do. Syracuse’s best offensive weapon is slasher C.J Fair, and with the driving lanes clogged, he’s having to put up too many shots to score his points. The offense is inefficient, and without a presence down low or shooters on the outside, that’s not going to change.
At this point of the season, you are what you are, and that makes it a little difficult for Syracuse to change what ails them. It looks like Syracuse is on course for bowing out in round 2 of the NCAA tournament.