Syracuse men’s basketball roundtable: Miami game, ACC tournament run, NCAA Tournament hopes

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse (18-13, 10-8 Atlantic Coast) takes on Miami (20-10, 10-8) at noon on Wednesday in the Barclays Center. The second round ACC tournament bout has big NCAA Tournament implications for the Orange.Ahead of the game, our beat writers answer three questions surrounding SU.1. What is Syracuse’s biggest concern in its matchup against Miami?Connor Grossman: There’s a wide range of issues that could crop up for Syracuse in its second tilt against Miami. The Orange played a level of defense against the Hurricanes in January that it’s been unable to demonstrate on the road. Expect Miami to score more than the 55 it dropped in the Carrier Dome, meaning the onus is on SU’s offense to compensate. Tyler Lydon and Andrew White each scored 20-plus points in Syracuse’s early-season win against the Hurricanes, but Lydon hasn’t scored 20 or more points in a month. SU’s biggest concern should be scoring depth, propping White up with a few other double-digit point producers. The one-man or two-man shows don’t usually result in wins.Matt Schneidman: Syracuse’s top concern shouldn’t be anything regarding the Hurricanes, rather what it will get out of Andrew White. Before going off for 40 points on 8-of-9 shooting from deep against Georgia Tech, the fifth-year senior couldn’t hit water from if he fell out of a boat. White dictates SU’s offense, for better or worse, and his form will guide how the Orange’s offense plays in the ACC tournament second round. Davon Reed is an All-ACC Defensive Team honoree, and he can probably lock up White as well as anyone in the conference. Something’s going to give on Wednesday.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPaul Schwedelson: Syracuse’s defense must play the way it did when it beat Miami on Jan. 4. That win sparked the Orange’s turnaround and was SU’s first legitimate big-time win of the season. Davon Reed (15.3 points), Ja’Quan Newton (13.9 points) and Bruce Brown (11.8 points) were all held below 10. Only one player for Miami scored more than nine (3-point specialist Dejan Vasiljevic had a career-high 18 points) and SU held the Hurricanes to a slim 55 points. If it can do that again, Syracuse will be in a good position to win. But that’s easier said than done.2. Who needs to step up the most for the Orange to have a shot in the ACC tournament?C.G.: The only way Syracuse makes a deep run in the ACC tournament is if it elevates to a level of play it hasn’t consistently shown. There are several keys required for that to happen, but igniting Taurean Thompson is a good start. He’s more than capable of taking over on offense, both around the rim and sinking the occasional jumper. If he can avoid the defensive blunders that have limited his playing time, he could be pivotal in beating Miami and making a run at No. 6 North Carolina in the quarterfinals. It’s hard to imagine Thompson reinventing himself at this point in the season, but it’s just as difficult to imagine Syracuse doing the same and making a run through the ACC tournament.M.S.: The answer to this one may not be White, even though Syracuse’s offense goes how he does. Tyler Lydon is a more appropriate answer to this question, especially since he hasn’t been the same consistent offensive force he is capable of since back-to-back blowout losses to UNC and Notre Dame in mid-January. Lydon has only hit seven 3-pointers in Syracuse’s last eight games, and he hasn’t exactly been a force on the interior either. You’ll rarely get a dud of a game from Tyus Battle, so Lydon will have to step up if the Orange wants a similar offensive showing it put on display in this season’s win against Miami.P.S.: Point guard play has been the key for Syracuse all season and I don’t think that changes this week. John Gillon has been the most inconsistent player for the Orange all season, but Jim Boeheim has said when he’s good, SU is good. Every other main contributor has been relatively steady recently, when healthy. And when Gillon can effectively get to the basket and make smart plays, the offense completely opens up. He’s shown the ability to score at the basket, draw fouls and hit free throws and pass to the perimeter. Now he needs to put it all together on the biggest stage he’s played on in his career.Jacob Greenfeld | Asst. Photo Editor3. How important is the ACC tournament to Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament hopes?C.G.: There’s no questioning the importance of SU’s second-round game against Miami. An NCAA Tournament bid can practically be assured with a win. Otherwise, the Orange’s postseason fate is a toss up. It fell in Syracuse’s favor last season, so if anything, don’t expect that it will this year. Beat the Hurricanes and rest easy on Selection Sunday. Lose, and hope the NCAA Tournament selection committee doesn’t fixate on non-conference or road records.M.S.: I don’t think it’s absolutely essential, but it’s still very important. Right now, I’d put SU as 60 percent in the NCAA Tournament. Yes, the Orange has six wins against teams in the RPI Top 50, but the committee has traditionally valued road wins and non-conference wins heavily. Syracuse is 2-11 away from the Carrier Dome this season and only beat a Monmouth team out of conference that didn’t even make it to the MAAC title game. If SU, beats Miami, I say those chances go to 100 percent. If not, maybe 55 percent, and a long wait until Selection Sunday.P.S.: Pretty damn important. If Syracuse doesn’t beat Miami, its Tournament hopes are completely up in the air. It would be 2-11 away from the Carrier Dome this season, with both wins against teams that won’t make the NCAA Tournament. A win against Miami would help tremendously and a win over North Carolina in the quarterfinals would help even more. A trip to Brooklyn resulting in an 0-1 record puts Syracuse at a severe risk of missing the Tournament. But people thought the same thing last year entering the ACC tournament and the Orange snuck in after a loss in its first ACC tournament game. So, who really knows? As much as it comes down to SU, it will also come down to which conferences bump from a one-bid league to a two-bid league due to automatic qualifiers forcing well-qualified teams to fill an at-large bid instead of an AQ spot. Comments Published on March 7, 2017 at 7:35 pmlast_img

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