Syracuse Basketball: Behind the Numbers Top 25 Edition


Does Syracuse basketball deserve to be ranked in the top 25 or are they really not worthy?

Last week, we went behind the numbers to compare this year’s Syracuse basketball team to previous years in terms of shooting the 3-point shot. This week, we’ll identify some interesting numbers between Syracuse and teams in the current AP Top 25 poll.

Before we begin, a quick note: Has anyone else noticed that Michigan State is positioning themselves to become only the second school to win a football and basketball national championship in the same year. The other was the University of Florida in 2007.

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Now, to Syracuse. Syracuse basketball received exactly zero votes for this week’s AP Top 25. That shouldn’t surprise anyone given the three losses were to Wisconsin (five losses), Georgetown (five losses), and St. John’s (six losses). That’s about as bad as it could get this early in the season in terms of RPI and quality of wins and losses. That doesn’t mean Syracuse basketball can’t get hot for a few weeks and grab a couple of quality wins to get into the poll. The college basketball season is a long season and the top 25 now will change drastically by conference playoff time.

With that said, here are some observations of the current top 25 and how Syracuse compares:

  1. Syracuse averages 72.2 points per game.
  2. The lowest per game average in the top 25 is 75.8 (#10 Providence).
  3. That means Syracuse scores 3.6 points less per game than the lowest scoring top 25 team.
  4. Syracuse gives up 63.9 points per game.
  5. That is better than 13 teams in the top 25.
  6. It is equal to one team (#3 Oklahoma).
  7. #16 Louisville gives up the least number of points per game (54.8).
  8. Those numbers give Syracuse an average margin per game of +8.3.
  9. That is lower than all 25 ranked teams.
  10. Only two teams in the top 25 has an average margin of less than +10 (#10 Providence at +9.3 and #20 George Washington at +8.5).
  11. The second lowest in the top 25 is +11.8 (#24 Utah).
  12. Syracuse averages 14.1 assists per game.
  13. That is better than only two teams in the top 25.
  14. Syracuse averages 37.5 rebounds per game.
  15. That is better than five team sin the top 25.
  16. Syracuse averages 5.2 blocks per game.
  17. That is better than 17 tops 25 teams.
  18. Syracuse averages 8.9 steals per game.
  19. Only one top 25 team is better at swiping the ball (#19 West Virginia with 12 per game).
  20. One of the most telling stats of who the best teams really are is the difference between offensive and defensive effective field goal percentage.
  21. Syracuse has an effective field goal percentage of +5.2.
  22. This means the shoot, effectively, 5.2% of the time better than their opponents.
  23. That is better than three teams and equal to one team in the top 25.
  24. The best in the top 25 is +17.5 (#3 Oklahoma).
  25. The worst in the top 25 is #10 Providence with +1.2.
  26. #10 Providence plays at #9 Butler on December 31.
  27. Butler averages 13.9 more points per game than Providence.
  28. Butler also has a +10.9 difference in effective field goal percentage (9.7 higher than Providence).
  29. If you remember point #10, Providence is one of two teams with an average margin of less than +10 (George Washington is the other).
  30. Providence should get stomped by Butler.
  31. George Washington has a +3.7 difference in effective field goal percentage.
  32. George Washington and Providence are not long for the top 25.
  33. Syracuse is playing comparable games as both of those teams.
  34. Which means Syracuse won’t be a top 25 team anytime soon.
  35. Unless they win all games against teams not named Miami, North Carolina, Duke, or Virginia through January 23.
  36. And win at least two, but preferably three or all of those games.

Related Story: Syracuse Basketball: Behind the Numbers 12/16

What does all this data tell us? Syracuse has too little offense, too little defense, not enough setup passing, and struggles in the paint to be a consideration for the top 25 right now. It also tells us that the Syracuse basketball team needs to focus on quality wins in the ACC this year (currently five teams are top 25 ranked). If they cannot win against the top 25 level teams in the ACC, then they have almost no hope of being in the top 25 the rest of the season.

That doesn’t bode too well come conference tourney time, but a good showing in the ACC tournament of course could get them into the big dance. If they were to get there, you can expect a #12 seed. Given last year’s self-imposed post-season ban and the scholarships the team can’t use (12 over four years), things are looking dim for the future. With that said, maybe we should be happily surprised as how well the team is actually playing at this point. It could be a lot worse.