In what is becoming an annual late February/early March event, all the talk regarding Syracuse basketball concerns brackets and bubbles, the stories and discussions are everywhere. A few good links to check out on the topic include:
- Mike Waters spoke to ESPN's Joe Lunardi (the guy still sporting the same haircut his mom gave him before his first day of school) and Lunardi says SU still has an opportunity to make the dance.
- The guys over at Cuse Country do a nice job of demonstrating that while SU lacks signature wins, especially road wins, they are still on the edge of the bubble.
- Orange 44/TNIAAM have quite a bit of bracket talk in their weekly chat.
- And Bud says Syracuse is facing some precarious times.
An Idiot's perspective
In the words of the immortal Herm Edwards, you play to win the game and that's what SU has to do down the stretch (obviously). Sadly, that's easier said than done, as Pitt, Seton Hall on the road, and Marquette are not pushovers. While the team is certainly capable of winning all three games, I simply do not see it happening. With the way Donte Greene is struggling, they simply do not have the offensive weapons to outscore people on a nightly basis and their defense was never good enough to carry them. As it stands now, they need to run the table in the regular season, get at least one win in NYC and hope like hell all the favorites in mid major conferences win their tournaments.
The Next Three Games
Pittburgh is up first this Saturday and it will be interesting. While the Panthers have faltered down the stretch, they are still a tough team and you have to account for guys like DeJuan Blair and Sam Young. Plus, you just know Levance Fields is going to get hot and make a bunch of shots he normally misses. Even taking all that into consideration, beating the Panthers is a realistic, given the fact that the game will be played in a full Carrier Dome and SU will come out knowing their backs are up against the wall. Boeheim has always been able to get his team up for games like these, so a win on Saturday would not surprise me in the least.
The game that terrifies me is Seton Hall. The Orange have been terrible on the road, and if they do manage to beat Pitt and mentally start gearing up for a Marquette, the game against the Pirates it will be South Florida Part II. Bobby Gonzalez likes to pressure the basketball, attack opponents and let the chips fall where they may. For a short handed, young team like Syracuse, there are a lot of concerns going into the game, and a lot of those concerns center on what's going on in the player's heads. A loss here and you should make plans to get your NIT tickets.
Marquette is playing some very good basketball right now, but depending on what happens with Pitt and Seton Hall, the game may not mean much. Dominic James and Jerel McNeal will present some serious challenges for the Orange - and if there's one thing that SU has proven this year, it's that while they do rise to meet challenges, they aren't experienced enough or deep enough to overcomb them.
I'd be very surprised if this team makes the NCAA tournament this year. At best they go 2-1 over the next three, which would mean they'd need at least 2 wins in NYC to have any shot at making the field, and I don't see it happening - I hope I'm wrong.