Syracuse Basketball: Season’s biggest frustration – so many losses by wide margins

The biggest frustration about the Syracuse basketball 2023-24 season has been 'Cuse losing so many times by large margins.
The biggest frustration about the Syracuse basketball 2023-24 season has been 'Cuse losing so many times by large margins. / Greg Fiume/GettyImages

As N.C. State was opening up a large lead in the second half over Syracuse basketball in the ACC Tournament’s second round this past Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., a fellow fan said to me on social media that when the Orange has lost this season, “they really lose.”

What this fan meant is that the ‘Cuse, throughout the course of the 2023-24 season, has gotten blown out in a lot of its setbacks. Now, a lot of those losses were to high-quality foes, but still, this fan brings up an interesting, albeit frustrating, point.

Why is it that Syracuse basketball, in 2023-24, is often losing by such massive disparities? I wish I had the answer.

Look, this column isn’t mean to trash the Orange. Anyone who knows me well knows that I love my alma matter and try to be as optimistic and positive as often as I can.

However, the numbers are, well, the numbers. And these huge setbacks, to me, are the most frustrating part of the team’s 2023-24 campaign.

Syracuse basketball, though, still has put forth a tremendous term.

First-year and first-time head coach Adrian Autry guided the Orange to its first 20-win regular season in a decade. The ‘Cuse was forecast to finish at No. 10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference race, and Syracuse basketball earned the No. 7 seed in the 2024 ACC Tournament.

Autry, deservingly, garnered some ACC coach of the year votes. Sophomore point guard Judah Mintz and sophomore big man Maliq Brown were named to All-ACC squads, while sophomore wing Quadir Copeland was the runner-up in the ACC’s sixth man of the year voting.

The Orange’s starting center at the onset of 2023-24 was injured for the second half of the season. One of the team’s veterans was dismissed from the program. Other reserves dealt with injuries and illnesses.

The ‘Cuse knocked off ACC regular-season champion North Carolina at home. Syracuse basketball swept its two-game, regular-season sets with N.C. State and Pittsburgh.

The Orange, at home, also defeated Colgate, which is going to the 2024 Big Dance, and Cornell, which may join the Raiders, as well as LSU. Last December, at a neutral site, the ‘Cuse beat Oregon.

My point with all of this is that Syracuse basketball, given its preseason expectations and various factors that have transpired throughout 2023-24, has put forth a solid, solid campaign.

Understandably, Orange fans are disappointed that the ‘Cuse won’t play in March Madness for the third consecutive stanza, although Syracuse basketball may hear its name called this Sunday night for an invite to the 2024 NIT.

All in all, I think the future is bright on the Hill, and Orange coaches have two tremendous 2024 recruits coming into the program next term.

Okay, but to get back to its setbacks. Earlier this week, the No. 10 seed N.C. State used a massive second-half run to ultimately smoke the No. 7 seed ‘Cuse, 83-65, in the ACC Tournament, the latest example of the Orange’s struggles in this annual event since leaving the Big East Conference for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013-14.

If my math is correct, Syracuse basketball (20-12, 11-9 in the ACC) has lost nine games by double-digits and the other three by single digits (see below).

What’s more, of those nine double-digit defeats, every one of them has come by at least 15 points. To reiterate, the Orange has some nice wins in 2023-24. And the bottom line is that a loss is a loss, no matter the final score.

To me, though, I would have liked to have seen Syracuse basketball be more competitive in these setbacks. Now, in some of them, the Orange faced a smaller deficit at some point in the second half before things got out of hand.

I also recognize that the ‘Cuse, in 2023-24, has a new head coach who is employing his own systems and styles of play on offense and defense. This season’s roster is also made up primarily of sophomores.

I’m not making excuses. Those are the realities. Another reality is that typically this stanza, when Syracuse basketball loses, it loses big.

In no way, shape or form am I implying that Orange players stop battling or give up. Not in the least. However, when facing the best of the best on its 2023-24 docket, Syracuse basketball has sometimes come up short. And often in a big-time way.

That’s my biggest frustration this season. It’s not the losses. Losses happen. It’s by how much the ‘Cuse has typically fallen, which to me signifies that the squad still possesses a relatively young roster.

Double-Digit Losses (9)
Tennessee, neutral site, 17 points
Gonzaga, neutral site, 19 points
Virginia, road, 22 points
Duke, road, 20 points
North Carolina, road, 36 points
Florida State, home, 16 points
Wake Forest, road, 19 points
Clemson, road, 15 points
N.C. State, neutral site, 18 points

Single-Digit Losses (3)
Boston College, road, five points
Clemson, home, nine points
Georgia Tech, road, five points

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