Record: (27-4, 14-4)
Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference
How They Qualified: At-Large Bid
Syracuse entered their first season in the ACC ranked 7th in the nation and picked 3rd in the conference. All they did to introduce themselves to the ACC was win their first 25 games in a row. That included a big win at home against Duke in an overtime thriller. But then they somehow managed to lose at home to a terrible Boston College team to end the streak. And in another close game against Duke, we were treated to one of the biggest tirades a coach has ever had when Jim Boeheim completely lost it in Cameron Indoor Stadium when C.J. Fair looked to make the game-tying shot, only to be called for a charge instead. It was a reaction for the ages.
Everybody expected big things from C.J. Fair, and he didn’t disappoint in leading the team in scoring. But it became clear the engine that made this team go was Jerami Grant. In fact, they only lost 2 games where he played the whole game.The other factor this year for the Orangemen was the play of freshman point guard Tyler Ennis. Syracuse won their share of nail-biters and Ennis was usually they guy hitting the game winning shot.
The addition of Syracuse this year showed a glimpse of what the ACC will look like in the future when Louisville is added to the mix.
What You Need to Know
Leading Scorer: C.J. Fair – 16.9 points per game
Leading Rebounder: Jerami Grant – 6.8 rebounds per game
Leading Passer: Tyler Ennis – 5.5 assists per game
Bad Losses: Boston College, Georgia Tech
Good Wins: UNC, Duke, Villanova
What to Expect
Needless to say, Syracuse would like a do-over for the last couple of weeks. They limp into the NCAA Tournament having lost 5 out of their last 7 games, including an uninspired loss in the ACC Tournament to NC State. Even if Jim Boeheim isn’t a fan of being in the ACC his team is better than what they’ve shown of late.
The Orangemen have the talent to go far in the big dance. They have a solid point guard in Ennis. Grant is the versatile guy every team needs in a deep tournament run. They will need to crank up their zone defense intensity in order to find the rhythm they had when they were ranked #1 in the nation and won 25 games in a row.
They will be a dangerous 3/4 seed in whatever region they end up in.