Syracuse basketball shows worthy of Big Dance bid in N.C. State rout

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports) /

With Syracuse basketball needing to beat red-hot N.C. State on Wednesday afternoon in the ACC Tournament’s second round, the pressure clearly was on the Orange.

No problem. The ‘Cuse delivered the goods. From my perspective, Syracuse basketball put forth its finest performance of the 2020-21 campaign when it mattered the most, and the Orange absolutely crushed the Wolfpack, 89-68, in Greensboro, N.C.

As a result, the ‘Cuse will square off with No. 1 seed Virginia, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s regular-season champion in 2020-21, on Thursday, March 11. Tip-off of this quarterfinal match-up is scheduled for noon, with television coverage on ESPN.

Earlier in this season, the Orange may have defeated better teams than N.C. State, including Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Clemson. But with everything on the line this Wednesday afternoon, Syracuse basketball played at an elite level.

This win for the ‘Cuse is a solid quadrant-two, neutral-court success for the Orange, although Syracuse basketball (16-8, 9-7) still could use another coveted quadrant-one triumph for its March Madness resume.

Immediately after the Orange’s demolishing of the Wolfpack, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi moved the ‘Cuse up two spots to the first squad overall in his first four out department. Should other teams ahead of Syracuse basketball in Lunardi’s projected field of 68 lose, that could get the ‘Cuse into his mock bracket.

Then again, if the Orange can stun the Cavaliers on Thursday afternoon, that almost certainly will earn Syracuse basketball an at-large invite to the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Syracuse basketball bolsters its case for Big Dance berth by besting N.C. State.

The ‘Cuse struggled a bit on defense and in the rebounding arena against the Wolfpack (13-10, 9-8) in the first half, but the Orange shored up both after intermission and really gave a knock-out punch to N.C. State for its third-consecutive achievement over this foe in 2020-21.

The Wolfpack entered this encounter having claimed five in a row, including a defeat of UVA on the road. But Syracuse basketball boasted an all-around balanced performance versus N.C. State.

The ‘Cuse shot lights-out from the field and from beyond the arc. It prevailed on the boards. The Orange dished out a ton of assists. And Syracuse basketball fared fairly well as it pertains to turnovers committed.

After the Orange’s conquering of the Wolfpack, head coach Jim Boeheim said in a Zoom call with media members that he’s “very proud” of what the ‘Cuse players have done in 2020-21, calling his guys “incredible.”

Boeheim said that Syracuse basketball has notched enough high-quality victories to be in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. For me, the Orange is right on the cut line for the field of 68.

With the Cavaliers looming on Thursday afternoon, Syracuse basketball has an opportunity to almost guarantee a ticket to the Big Dance if it can win this ACC Tournament quarterfinal collision.

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