Syracuse Basketball: Keeping up with the Orange's NCAA Tournament chances

We take a look at the remaining 2023-24 regular-season games for Syracuse basketball and assess SU's post-season resume.
We take a look at the remaining 2023-24 regular-season games for Syracuse basketball and assess SU's post-season resume. / Rich Barnes/GettyImages

In typical Syracuse basketball fashion, this season has been an absolute roller coaster. From buzzer-beater thrills (thank you, Quadir Copeland), to absolute blow-outs, we have seen it all. Honestly, that's why I love being a Syracuse fan.

But, as always, this back-and-forth affair leaves us fans wondering, is Syracuse going to make the tournament? Are we going to see another 2015-2016 run? Truthfully, I don't have the answers, but let's take a look at the Orange's resume.

The Resume

It's not unrealistic to think that the Orange have a shot of making the NCAA tournament. They have a solid record of 14-8 (5-6 in conference play), and a decent but unspectacular resume, including an away win versus Pittsburgh (a Q1 win). However, the NCAA NET rankings have the Pittsburgh win trending down. To make matters worse, the Pittsburgh win is considered a weaker Quad 1 win.

The Orange have faired quite well with Q2, Q3, and Q4 wins, with a record of 12-2 thus far, but the 1-5 record in Q1 is a glaring hole in their resume that potentially exposes some talent disparity. The recent losses to Florida State (Q3) and Boston College (Q2) do not help their case.

That doesn't mean a tourney bid is impossible, more likely improbable. The road to March is littered with potholes for this Orange squad, including another game against their juggernaut foe, North Carolina, who almost literally blew the Orange off the court in their meeting earlier in the year. But crazier things have happened than an improbable 'Cuse team suiting up in March.

The rest of the schedule is manageable, but, at this point, 'Cuse needs to outperform expectations. With 9 games left (not including the ACC tournament), here's the breakdown.

The Schedule

2/3 @Wake Forest record 13-7 (5-4) - I cannot stress enough how big a win here would be for 'Cuse. The NET rankings firmly place this game as a Q1 win and a respectable win at that. I don't hate 'Cuse's chances here, but FanDuel did have the Orange as a large betting underdog.

Wake Forest can shoot and has some strong guard play led by Hunter Sallis and Kevin Miller. Efton Reid may also prove to be a problem with his 7-foot, 240-pound frame.

Side note - Wake Forest did recently lose to Pittsburgh! And the Demon Deacons ended up blowing out Syracuse basketball this past Saturday night.

2/7 Louisville 6-15 (1-9) - There's not much to say. Please, please beat Louisville. A loss pretty much kisses the Orange's tourney chances goodbye.

2/10 Clemson 14-6 (4-5) - Considering this is a home game, I think the result is a toss-up. ESPN favors Clemson, but not by huge margins. A loud dome could make all the difference, especially Joe Girard's homecoming.

P.J. Hall and Ian Schieffelin will be a problem as stretch big men who can use their bodies in the paint. This will be the first game ever that I will actively root for Joe Girard to chuck up ill-advised threes.

2/13 North Carolina 17-4 (9-1) - I hate to be that guy, but this may be a game to chalk up as a loss. Don't get me wrong, I will irrationally believe the Orange will win until the final buzzer sounds, but the Tar Heels just looked way to good in the first matchup to lose this game. Pack the Dome, though, the Orange will prove me wrong (I hope).

2/17 @ Georgia Tech 10-11 (3-7) - Georgia Tech is a slim favorite in this matchup because they are at home, but I don't really buy it. The Yellow Jackets aren't very big under the basket but do employ strong, lanky, athletic guards like Miles Kelly and Kowacie Reeves Jr.

Their record isn't indicative of the quality of their team either. KenPom ranked the Yellow Jackets as having the 15th most difficult schedule thus far. It will be a tough game, but I like the Orange's chances with Judah Mintz and J.J. Starling crashing the rim hard.

2/20 @ North Carolina St. 14-7 (6-4) - Syracuse is the clear favorite in this game. That's because of a relatively easy win earlier year against the Wolfpack, 77-65. North Carolina State was weak with the ball leading to 10 steals for Syracuse, was mediocre on the boards (only outrebounding the Orange 41-40), and shot a solid but unspectacular 32% from 3.

That's a recipe for success for the Orange this year. I expect a similar result in the next go around too, hopefully with similar performances from J.J. Starling, who notched 26 points (including 4 three's) and Judah Mintz, who finished with 20 points, 14 of those coming from the charity stripe.

2/24 Notre Dame 7-14 (2-8) - A home loss to Notre Dame would be ugly, and almost on par with a loss to Louisville. They're currently on a five-game losing streak though did beat Georgia Tech and, shockingly, beat Virginia by 22. Regardless, its a must-win game.

2/27 Virginia Tech 13-9 (5-6) - If Virginia Tech's sharpshooters show up, it's going to be difficult for the Orange to win. Otherwise, I think the matchup favors the Orange. Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla can really play, and if they're shooting, watch out.

3/2 @ Louisville 6-15 (1-9) - I'll give Louisville the benefit of the doubt since it's a home game for them, but come on. If 'Cuse wants to even get a glimpse of the tournament they're leaving Louisville with a win.

3/5 @ Clemson 14-6 (4-5) - Clemson is really good at home with only two losses on the year (one of them being North Carolina). This matchup has major caution signs for 'Cuse and reeks of a blowout loss if the Tigers get hot. This would not have been my choice to end the regular season.


If the Orange can win 7-8 of their final 9 games, maybe they turn some heads on the tournament committee, though that's a big if and an even bigger maybe. A win against one of Wake Forest, Clemson, and North Carolina would be cool, multiple wins would leave me ecstatic.

Even if the regular season falls short, maybe the Orange can win the ACC tournament. Crazier things have happened.

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