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The Confidential

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Archive for the category “Syracuse correspondent”

ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 1/2

Welcome to the ACC Roundtable of the ACC Correspondents!  As is and will be the plan for the remainder of the football season, some of the Confidential correspondents will discuss the Week that was (week 1) and the Week that will be (Week 2) for the ACC and their respective schools.

Q1: What stands out about your school’s performance last week?
Harrison Huntley (NC State): The emergence of Ryan Finley was the big story of Week 1. The biggest question mark State had was at QB. The coaching staff wouldn’t name a starter, and made it clear that the battle would be decided on the field. I don’t know if it’s been announced yet, but Finley has to get the nod after his performance last week. He went 17-21 with 174 yards and 2 TD’s. Contrast that with Jalen McClendon’s 6-9, 88 yd and an interception, Finley seems to have ended the debate.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): The fact that Syracuse was able to play so fast in their first game under Dino Babers.  Although he claimed it was slow, it was fast enough for Bobby Petrino to make comments that drew the ire of numerous Syracuse blogs.  See e.g. here.  Look, Syracuse offense has been an “issue” for most of the post-Pasqualoni era.  Under Greg Robinson, getting first downs was exciting.  The latter part of the Doug Marrone era was a pro-style offense that moved the ball decently, but there were other times when wins came by defense.  Scott Shafer’s offenses had some moments, but also had some not so great moments, but remained a defense-first program.  The idea of having an offensive-first philosophy has not been the case in a long, long time.  That it also happens to be fast paced and tailored to the Carrier Dome is exciting.  That it worked pretty well against Colgate stood out.
Q2: What are you looking to see out of your school this week?
Harrison Huntley (NC State): Wolfpack fans have made it clear that the team needs to leave Greenville with a win. There doesn’t seem to be any expectations in terms of stats, all that will matter is what is on the scoreboard. It’s the risk you take playing these kinds of games. A win over ECU won’t make many headlines, but a loss certainly would.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Well, the offense looked good (not great) against Colgate.  How will it look against bigger, stronger, faster, smarter athletes?  A few Dungey passes were just missed by Colgate defenders.  Against Louisville, that will be a Pick Six.  A few other passes were caught because of superior athleticism.  That will not happen in any other game.  So… how good will Syracuse’s offense be against a very good opponent?  We’ll be looking at that very closely.
Q3: Did any other ACC team impress you this week?  If so, who and why?
Harrison Huntley (NC State): I was pleasantly surprised with how well Florida State played, especially after trailing by so much. They seem to have solved their QB problem as well with Francois, and the defense played on another level in the second half. I still think NC State will win that one in Raleigh, but they looked very impressive in that second half.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Miami.  I do not  care who the opponent is, when you put up points like that, you are doing something right.  And, for Miami, it is all the more important that they get some swagger back.  If the conference is going to be FSU, Clemson, and a diminutive dozen, so be it.  But Miami being an elite program would be good for the ACC by both restoring balance to the divisions and making the conference look better to outsiders.  Miami has had good moments in the past, to be sure.  The issue is whether Richt will carry it through week after week.  We will see.
Q4: As of the season to date, who are you projecting in the college football playoff? 
Harrison Huntley (NC State): Alabama, Clemson/FSU, Michigan/Ohio State, Houston.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Oregon.  Florida State, Michigan, and Houston are all in the hunt obviously.  But Houston was upset by UConn last year–there is little room for error this year.  If it comes down to 1-loss teams from major conferences–unless Houston’s only loss is to a Louisville team that is also in the playoffs, it is hard to see Houston making it in.  Florida State and Michigan would be excluded based on head-to-head results.

What do you think?  How would you answer these questions?

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The Confidential’s ACC Football Roundtable: Week 1

Every week, some or all of the Confidential’s correspondents will “roundtable” issues regarding the ACC, as well as recapping the week that was and previewing the week to come.  As we are just hours away from the season starting, we are looking forward exclusively this week.

Q1: Which ACC team is the biggest risk for being an upset victim in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame):  Pittsburgh Panthers.  Many ACC teams play weak competition in week 1, with teams like Charlotte, Liberty, William & Mary, and Florida A&M lined up to face ACC teams. I’ll go with the Pittsburgh Panthers to possibly falling victim an upset to the Villanova Wildcats. Even though they are a FCS team, the Wildcats have talent on the offensive side of the ball and will looking to upset their in-state opponent to send a message in week one.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Hard to say what is and isn’t an upset this early in the season, but we do know that Clemson is in a lot of playoff projections, and this isn’t a gimme with Auburn. This is an SEC team that runs the kind of offense that is tough to prepare for. Sure they had the whole offseason, but the Tigers probably have other things to worry about.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Syracuse better be very, very ready for Colgate, an experienced team.  Not a gimme.  I disagree with Villanova only because I think Pitt under Narduzzi is the real deal.  They may not win the Coastal, but this is not the typical mediocre Pitt coaching hire.  So I will go with Tulane over Wake Forest.  Assuming the former Georgia Southern coaches can implement some semblance of what they did before at Tulane, Wake Forest may get itself into a shootout.  If so, could be trouble.

Q2: What are the three things your school’s team must do to win in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): With Notre Dame kicking the season off at Texas, the Fighting Irish must take the excitement out of the crowd and score first. If they can build an early lead and have the Longhorns play catch up, they will be in better position to win. The second key to victory is to put pressure on true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele early and often. The third key is to get the ball in the hands of captain Torii Hunter Jr.’s hands, as he will set the stone for the otherwise young receiving corps the Irish have.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): 3 things? I hope it doesn’t take 3 things to beat William and Mary. They beat State in basketball, so I guess it isn’t out of the question, but there’s no reason this shouldn’t be a win. I’m a big FCS guy, and W&M isn’t North Dakota State. More than 3 things would have to go horribly wrong for this to be a loss.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Syracuse is many years past where it could look past an FCS school.  This is just reality.  Villanova should have beaten Syracuse and Colgate may be more primed to pull an upset.  Syracuse will need to avoid turnovers–which give instant life to an opponent.  While most will be concerned about Syracuse looking past Colgate, what is even more important is that Syracuse use its superior athletes–bigger players should push around smaller players, faster players should play faster than slower players–and so on.  Up to the coaches to use the size and speed advantages.  And then, of course, fundamentals…block, tackle, hang on to the ball, avoid penalties…. amazing how often that matters.

Q3: What would have to happen for your school to lose in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): The Fighting Irish would have to come out unfocused and nervous to lose in week one, as a defense with six starters should feast against a true freshman quarterback in his first start.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): There’s no QB1 or QB2 on the depth chart, so both would have to play terrible. Add on some injuries to the running game, and the defense would just have to implode.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): It would not take much, sadly.  If Syracuse is turnover prone or allows a special teams touchdown, it could be game on.  If Syracuse starts slow, Colgate will stay in the game that much longer.  In the end, if you give an FCS team reason for hope, expect them to run with it.  We have seen it far too many times at Syracuse–from Coach P losing to Rutgers/Temple when they were miserably awful… to Doug Marrone allowing Maine to hang in there… to Scott Shafer nearly losing to Villanova.  And, of course, we see it every year during the Big Dance (looking at you, Middle Tennessee State).

Well, that is what these correspondents think.  What do you think?  Please feel free to share below.  And if you are interested in being a correspondent, see here.

The Confidential’s ACC Football Roundtable: Preseason 2016

Every week, some or all of the Confidential’s correspondents will “roundtable” issues regarding the ACC, as well as recapping the week that was and previewing the week to come.  As we are still in the preseason, we are looking forward exclusively this week.

Q1: OK, with the football season right around the corner, who are the 5 best teams in the ACC (including Notre Dame) in order?  Which two are playing in the ACC Championship Game?  And who, if anyone, from the ACC will make the playoffs?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame):  The Clemson Tigers are the best team in the ACC. Following them, is Florida State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, and the Miami Hurricanes.  ACC Title Game: FSU vs UNC. Playoffs: FSU

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Clemson, FSU, Miami, UNC, Louisville. Clemson and Miami playing in Charlotte.  I think any ACC champ would make the playoff assuming they only have a loss or two

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): 1, Clemson; 2, FSU; 3. Notre Dame; 4. Miami; 5. Louisville.  Clemson vs Miami, with Clemson in the playoffs.

Q2: Looking objectively at your team, which team is your team most likely to upset?  And which team is most likely to upset your team?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): With an early home game and the Spartans having holes to fill in their starting offensive line, the Irish have a very good chance of beating Michigan State at home in the third week of the season. Since the Fighting Irish’s schedule doesn’t give them many opportunities to pull off an upset, Michigan State would be my choice, even if they are close in the rankings.  With only three away games this season, Notre Dame will avoid hostile environments and be less likely to get upset. I will pick the Miami Hurricanes as one team who can upset the Irish this season. Quarterback Brad Kaaya is special and will be looking to increase his draft stock with a big win in South Bend.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): That’s easy: FSU. It’s in Raleigh, and for whatever reason, NC State always does well against the Noles at home. I think Syracuse has the best chance to pull an upset, just because it’s on the road. Normally I’d say BC or Wake, but both are at home this year so State SHOULD be ok against these guys.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Most Syracuse fans will say Virginia Tech because it is a home game.  But in Week 2, Louisville will have very little film to scout (and Colgate may not provide a preview of the entire offense), a Syracuse team without depth may be as healthy as it will be for any game all year, Louisville will still be “green” on its own, Syracuse is at home, etc.  I would not bet your kids’ lunch money on an upset, but it is my pick.  As for upsetting Syracuse, it is difficult with so few games to choose from. UConn is likely to be an underdog if Syracuse starts strong, so look for that as a potential loss in the same spirit as the USF win over Syracuse last year.  Sadly.  Frankly, it would be better for the ACC if B.C. or Wake Forest is the answer to this question–but both may be favored.

Q3: Who is one offensive player from your school for fans of other schools to keep an eye on in 2016?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): I know it may be cliché to choose the starting running back, but Tarean Folston is ready to be the star of the Notre Dame offensive attack. Folston was all set to be the starter last season but tore his ACL after three rushing attempts in the season opener. In 2014, Folston had four 100-yard rushing games, including 120 yards and a touchdown at #2 Florida State. Keep an eye out for the senior running back, who will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): You won’t see Jaylen Samuels on many watch lists, but that’s because he has no position. He can play RB, WR, TE, and anywhere in the backfield. He’s big and fast, a great combination.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): In this Dino Babers system, gotta go with the QB: Eric Dungey.  If he stays healthy and grasps the system, Dungey could put up huge numbers.  But those are some big “ifs” to watch for.  With a fairly decent compliment of skill players (relative to past seasons), we really may see Syracuse play fast and be fast.

Q4: Who is one defensive or special teams player for fans of other schools to take notice of?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): Cole Luke will be the leader in the secondary. The senior is coming off a little disappointing season after his breakout sophomore season. Luke only had 6 passes defended last year meanwhile he had 11 in 2014. Watch the 5’11” senior come back to form in his last year with the Fighting Irish.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Nyheim Hines is a guy that’s so fast, he lines up at RB and WR. This speed is what makes him a great option when returning kicks and punts

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): After 7 years of Scott Shafer as defensive coordinator and head coach, and with a very inexperienced and not-so-deep defense, this could be a struggle.  All the more reason that Syracuse will need to score a lot and actually convert turnovers (however many) into points.  With linebacker perhaps the area with most returning depth, and Zaire Franklin the junior that was a captain last year as a sophomore MLB likely to anchor that unit, watch Franklin.

Well, that is what these correspondents think.  What do you think?  Please feel free to share below.  And if you are interested in being a correspondent, see here.

2016 Syracuse Football–Are Any Prognosticators Optimistic?

The Confidential has already disclosed its over-under for Syracuse, placing it at 4.5 regular season wins.  Turns out, many are projecting Syracuse to win 3 or fewer games, and perhaps even finish last in the ACC Atlantic.  Well, for whatever its worth, Las Vegas used an over-under of 4 wins for Syracuse.  But, most of the feedback to the Confidential was that 4.5 regular season wins was a fair estimate given the new coaching staff, existing talent, and the typical overscheduling by the Orange.  But any prognosticators projecting Syracuse to go “over” the 4.5 regular season win total?  Did some research today.  Turns out there are some:

TodaysU predicts that the Orange will go 5-7, beating Colgate, South Florida, UConn, Wake Forest, and Boston College.

CollegeFootball News was more optimistic for the Orange, predicting 6-6.  They have Syracuse beating Colgate, South Florida, UConn, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina State.

CampusInsiders, similarly, has Syracuse at 6-6 by beating Colgate, South Florida, UConn, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina State.

Way back in January, Brent Axe predicted 5-7, with wins over Colgate, UConn, Wake Forest, Boston College, and NC State.

The NunesMagician blog also did some “fuzzy math” projections in January, coming up with 4.6 wins.  Hey, it’s “over” the 4.5 over-under!

SB Nation had a TON of analysis of the 2016 Orange football team, settling on 5.5 wins.  Definitely check out that article.

So… Syracuse fans… not everyone is doom and gloom.  There is some reason to not already look ahead to 2017 and instead see the very real possibility of a bowl game in 2016.

Did we miss anyone’s positive preview/projection?  What do you think?

 

A Sad State of Affairs: Jim Boeheim & Politics

This author grew up in the shadow of the Carrier Dome and has defended Jim Boeheim for years.  When he was getting unexpectedly bounced from the Big Dance, this author defended him.  When Keith Smart hit that jumper, this author defended him.  After forty years of sharing Syracuse basketball together, there have been few instances of criticism.  When the Bernie Fine saga broke, it was suggested that perhaps the “all-in” strategy was risky, calling victims liars and resulting in a lawsuit against him.  So take this next criticism for what it is–a rarity.

In his report from the Olympics, Jim Boeheim strayed from the expected topics–you know, basketball, the Olympics, and Rio–to discuss American politics.  He specifically stated the following:

You don’t see the news down here. Not much, anyway. So we don’t talk a lot about Donald Trump. But I will say that it’s a sad state of affairs that he could be running for president.

He appeals to a certain radicalized part of the country that basically hates everything that’s going on, without reason. I hope, and think, that when we vote in November the American people will wake up and there will be the greatest landslide in our nation’s political history.

But like I said, we don’t talk about that stuff too much. We’re here to play eight games in 15 days and try to win a gold medal. That’s keeping us pretty busy.

Boeheim did not just express a “preference,” he came right out and criticized Donald Trump, belittled Trump’s followers, insulted those who think our country can and should be doing better, and went beyond “all-in” with respect to Hillary Clinton.

Look, Boeheim can do what he pleases.  He can stay 1,000 miles from politics.  He can ride in Hillary Clinton’s campaign bus and get a tattoo of her logo on his face.  It is his life to do what he pleases.

However, he has clearly and intentionally insulted a significant portion of his fan base and the country.  He has insulted this author.  Though this article is written from the sun belt, it is written by a Syracuse fan from birth that has lived most of his life dealing with lake effect snow and scarves.  Relative to substance, although the writer of this article seriously questions the direction of our country socially, politically, and religiously… it is with good reason and far from “without reason.”

To be sure, the fairest characterization is that both candidates are demonstrative of a “sad state of affairs.”  While Donald Trump is a poor candidate, Hillary Clinton is an equally poor candidate.  The former says some really dumb things, while the latter has done some really dumb things.  And vice-versa.  Neither inspire confidence, which makes their respective nominations all the more disconcerting if you really think about it.  Although the Justice Department punted–or perhaps even “quick kicked” when comparing the explanation with the result–on the investigation into Clinton’s emails, has there ever been a major party candidate with such a history of scandal leading up to and including an FBI investigation during the campaign?

But Jim Boeheim did not say that or anything similar.  Instead, he took a clear, specific position that just so happened to insult a portion of his fan base and the country.  And, without even getting to whether he is “right” or “wrong,” Jim Boeheim has his own history of improper statements and behavior that make him a poor spokesperson on politics or morals.  Want to investigate?  How about these “sad states of affairs” involving Syracuse basketball under Boeheim:

  • Casual Hoya lists a number of arrests involving Syracuse basketball players over Boeheim’s lengthy career.  A large number of rape allegations.
  • In 1992, Syracuse was placed on probation for two years, including a one-year post-season ban from the NCAA tournament for recruiting violations.
  • Although Boeheim called the victims’ liars, the general consensus was that there was some credibility to the accusations against Boeheim’s long-time assistant coach Bernie Fine (who was ultimately terminated by Syracuse).  Boeheim has been sued for his comments.
  • In 2015, Syracuse basketball was again sanctioned by the NCAA–fairly severely–for violations of a several-year period.

Given the sexual scandals at Syracuse involving players and assistant coaches, and given Bill Clinton’s history, perhaps Boeheim and Hillary do have something in common.

Regardless, Boeheim has criticized the NCAA for sanctioning him for not knowing what was going on within the Syracuse program academically.  Boeheim has claimed to not know what was going on inside his program relative to Bernie Fine and alleged molestation of children.  Boeheim seems to have a lot on his plate keeping him from already doing his job to the fullest.  In the meantime, there is no need for him to do a “bull in the china shop” routine in the delicate, political landscape.  (Parenthetically, what did he mean by Trump “could be” running for President?  Was this article written in early 2015?).

And do we really need entertainers using their cult of personality to influence politics?  That seems to be an even sadder state of affairs.  Americans should know who to vote for without knowing how any other famous person is voting.

For now, there is no protest or significant backlash.  Boeheim has a long history of dumb statements that will cause many of his critics to move on quickly.  Many Boeheim supporters will shrug off or rationalize these comments with the same vigor that Trump’s supporters shrug off or rationalize Trump’s ill-advised statements.  The funny thing is that, in the end, isn’t this a pot criticizing a kettle?   Another sad state of affairs.

What do you think?  Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Boeheim, do you find it in poor taste for him to include that political opinion in his report from Rio?   

Syracuse A.D. Mark Coyle Already Leaving Position

Welp, that did not take long.  Recent athletic director hire Mark Coyle is already leaving Syracuse for the greener snowier pastures of Minnesota.  Syracuse.com refers to “family reasons,” which would be a very good reason for such a move.

At Minnesota, Coyle will be able to compete in a division with Wisconsin and Nebraska in football–a step down in competition from Florida State and Clemson.  Of course, the history of Gophers’ sports is not exactly riddled with bowl successes and Final Four runs.

In any event, Minnesota is likely flush with all that Big 10 cash, as that conference shows its true colors by putting money ahead of every decision.  And, in reality, it is only that the Big 10 is simply better at converting athletics into cash than most other conferences.  The same hypocritical agenda is in place in the ACC, as well as all other conferences.  Meanwhile, the sheeple of this world continue to believe that Universities have any morally sound agenda whatsoever.  Regardless, Minnesota has money than Syracuse simply does not.

As for Syracuse, they are still a P5 school that can pay more than most other non-P5 schools.  As the Coyle hire was good, there is reason to be confident that the Trustees will make another good hire.  For the most part, other than (a) not getting joined in a conference with Penn State somehow; and (b) hiring Greg Robinson, Syracuse athletic directors have done a very good job over the past 40 or so years.

Pearl Washington Passes Away at 52

Sadly, Dwayne “Pearl” Washington has passed away.  As a Syracuse Orange fan from birth and one who remembers the early days of Louie and Bouie, there is no doubt that The Pearl was the most important player in converting Syracuse from an interesting regional team to a national power.  Hey, just ask Jim Boeheim.  Although he was from New York City, only several hours from campus, Pearl was a major recruit and promised to bring great things to Syracuse before leaving.

Indeed, he was interviewed during halftime of a Syracuse game and indicated as much.  It did not take long to fulfill that promise:

Yes, one of the greatest moments in Syracuse basketball history.  Unreal at the time.  Unreal today.

In today’s world, words can be meaningless.  It can be said that Pearl had an amazing crossover.  But you have seen a few other ridiculous ball-handlers since Pearl too.  It can be said that Pearl was one of the few players in college basketball who could take on Georgetown and Patrick Ewing–and you would be right.  But, for many, Ewing is a distant memory too–a good to great NBA player, but forgetting how dominant he was in college.

If only his skill could be described.  For any generation, and certainly today’s generation, it would be better to just give you a video.  And ask yourself if you can find players doing these Pearl things BEFORE did them.  Good luck with that.  Anyway, enjoy the video:

As you can see, amazing things with the basketball.  And that does not do justice to his skill set and demonstration of it game after game.  There were few games where Pearl was not dominant–if not scoring, then by dishing the ball.  He certainly made his teammates better– a great compliment.

Pearl will always be remembered by Syracuse fans that were old enough to see him live.  He will be remembered as a “one of a kind.”  He will also be remembered as a great ambassador for the program after his career ended.  Really, it is hard to come up with too many negatives about Pearl.  He was a legend, more than worthy of being called “The Pearl.”

Nationally, he was a player that fueled the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry that helped popularize the Big East and even ESPN.  We might not have ESPN2, much less ESPN3, without those early catalysts from the Big East.  Not a bad legacy.  Although his NBA career was surprisingly underwhelming, Pearl is… sadly, was… one of those great college legends that simply never made it professionally (just like most Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks, in fact).

As you get older, you will find that the age where you say “that man was too young to die” gets increasingly older.  But perhaps there is little dispute that 52 is too young to die.  And it certainly is.  But Pearl used but a few of those 52 years to create eons worth of memories.

On behalf of all college basketball fans, and certainly Syracuse fans, the passing of Dwayne “Pearl” Washington is a reason to mourn.  And remember.

Syracuse Orange: Is the NIT Actually Better For The Team? No.

If you watched Syracuse Orange basketball this season, you saw a very flawed team.  You absolutely did not see a team capable of getting to the Final Four.  A few good wins do not change that, especially with several months in between them.  This was just not a very good team.  Yet it is squarely on “the bubble,” meaning that it could still somehow eke into the field.  The question that begs is whether Syracuse would be better off in the NIT this year.  The answer is “no.”

Before proceeding, let’s not pretend that any program would turn down an NCAA bid to go to the NIT.  Even if you have a one in a trillion chance of winning it all, you want that opportunity.  You also want that exposure and experience for the players.  You never, ever turn down an NCAA bid.  Instead, the issue is whether it would be better for Syracuse to (a) be in an NCAA field where winning 2 games is unlikely; or (b) in an NIT field where there is a chance of winning the whole thing and playing several games.

The thing about (b) is that it ignores reality.  Boeheim is what he is–he is never going to play young players just to get them experience.  He does not do it against Cornell in December, he is not going to do it in the NIT where it is win or go home.  The idea that we would suddenly hand over the team to young players ignores all history and tendencies.  At best, it would be a few extra minutes in games other than blowouts.  Maybe there could be a blowout in an NIT game, but that would be it–one.  If this team was capable of blowing out opponents, it would not be on the bubble in the first place.

And is it fair to Silent G to keep him on the bench?  He deserves to score and impress NBA scouts.  Cooney, for all his ups and downs, does not deserve to be benched.  Coleman needs work on all facets of his game, so it would be foolish to not play him as much as possible.  And so on.  How can you play ANY game with a goal to get experience, rather than win?   This is not the NFL preseason, it is a one-and-done tournament.

But perhaps most importantly, there is no reason to believe that this team could win more games in the NIT playing younger players.  If this team’s young players were not good enough to play limited roles during the season in big time games, there is no reason to believe that throwing them out there in NIT games is going to lead to automatic wins and “experience.”  Stated otherwise, these young players would lead Syracuse no farther in the NIT than the experienced players would in the NCAA.  And, if that is the case, what good is the NIT?

There is no need for a few more home games in the Dome in front of 11,000 apathetic fans.  Historically, Syracuse has blown games against Florida State and UMass in similar situations where the bubble went the wrong way.  The deep NIT runs have been few and far between.

All in all, there is little or no silver lining to going to the NIT.  Syracuse fans do not need to jump off buildings if the Orange are sent there, and there is certainly no reason not to take the games seriously (as fans or players), but do not pretend that it is “actually better” for Syracuse to go to the NIT instead of the NCAA.  At least, that is the opinion here.

Syracuse Plays Itself Back Onto the Proverbial “Bubble”

Heading into Syracuse’s matchup with Florida State, Syracuse may have been on “the bubble,” but it was sitting pretty nicely on the right side of same.  A win over a mediocre Florida State team would be enough to start planning for one of the eight nice destinations reserved for the Big Dance.  Instead, Syracuse lost–for the same reasons that it often lost this year–placing itself right on the bubble and allowing other teams to share control of the Orange destiny.

This is what ESPN’s Bubble Watch had to say about Syracuse before the FSU game:

Syracuse [19-11 (9-8), RPI: 52, SOS: 37] When your career wins tally runs just shy of four digits, you don’t much go in for moral victories. Were Jim Boeheim inclined, even briefly, to entertain such a heretical notion, Monday night’s 75-70 loss at North Carolina would be a fine time to do so. The Orange played a very good team to a near-draw on the road; they even cut a 13-point second half lead to only one with two minutes left to play. And they did so despite guards Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney’s combined 3-of-13 effort from 3 and 9-of-27 night overall. Even forward Tyler Roberson — who spent the past week in the deepest and darkest recesses of Boeheim’s doghouse — grabbed 11 rebounds. It was a good night in every way but the final score. Whether that will mean much to Syracuse’s currently solid but nonetheless still vulnerable odds of making the NCAA tournament probably will have more to do with Saturday’s trip to Florida State (and, most likely, how the ACC tournament unfolds). But if the eye test can be graded on a curve — and really, isn’t that the whole point — Monday was a win.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, meanwhile, had Syracuse fairly comfortable as a 9-seed.

With the loss, Syracuse drops to 19-12 overall and 9-9 in ACC play.  This is 10th in the ACC, as Virginia Tech and Clemson each got to 10-8, while Pitt’s 9-9 includes two wins over the Orange.

If that was not bad enough, Syracuse now has to play that very same Pitt team in the ACC tournament.  Even when Syracuse is dominant, Pitt gives it trouble.  With a middling Syracuse team, the law of averages is not quite what it might ordinarily be–a third loss is far from unlikely.  If so, Syracuse will be merely 19-13.  That makes for some short nails on selection Sunday.

If Syracuse can beat Pitt, it will get more comfort, but then have to face the #1 seed in the ACC.  Whomever that is, it will be a daunting matchup, leaving Syracuse very likely to lose and end up at 20-13.  So there it is–a best case scenario of 20-13.

But this is not shocking.  For a good shooting team, Syracuse does not shoot well consistently.  This is because you can count on several poor shots from a shot-selection standpoint every game.  These might as well be turnovers–which are also on the rise.  With spotty rebounding and very little inside presence on either side of the court, all there is most night is a hope that they will out shoot the opponent.  Which brings things back to the aforementioned inconsistency and shot selection.

To be sure, if Syracuse was to get into the Big Dance and then get into the 2nd round, some higher seeds would have to be pretty nervous about Syracuse having a great shooting night and pulling the upset.  Even that is only likely to happen once, meaning that the prospects of a deep march into March are as slim as for those who win the tiniest of conference automatic bids.  It will be nice to be on the bracket, but a second weekend would be the upside and a not very likely one at that.

For a down year muddied by NBA defections and NCAA suspension follies, the season could have been much worse.  Much much worse.  Nevertheless, this is a team that is doing everything it can to not control its own destiny, which usually ends poorly.  This team is on the bubble because it is a bubble team.

Should ANY Syracuse Athlete Be Allowed to Wear #44?

A photo in a blog entry over at NunesMagician.com featured a Syracuse lacrosse player wearing the hallowed #44.  Indeed, this year’s lacrosse roster has Matt Harris donning the number.  And there are other Syracuse Orange players wearing the number: field hockey’s Megan Evangelista and lacrosse’s Mary Rahal.  No athlete should have their number taken away.  And this is not to criticize any of the three for choosing that number–few Syracuse athletes would turn down the opportunity to wear #44.  But, moving forward, should Syracuse retire the #44 for all sports?

On this issue, the Confidential remains silent.  First, it is not clear that #44 should be retired for football, much less all sports.  Second, on the other hand, #44 is a number that identifies with Syracuse unlike almost any other number at any other institution.   Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, Derrick Coleman, John Wallace.  The zip code.  And so on.

Instead of opining, the Confidential will simply invite commentary: If the 44 is retired from football and basketball, and is the number that defines the University as a whole (see the zip code change), does it make sense for any Syracuse athlete to be allowed to wear the number?   Let us know here or on Twitter.

 

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