Wednesday night brings us the latest installment of “Is Syracuse Good?” It’s the show that’s dominating the discussion around the nation’s living rooms. The answer, of course, that Syracuse is good, sometimes, and then on other occasions Syracuse isn’t too good, but not all the time, and then really there’s some other times in there where Syracuse is just kinda hangin’ out.
The Orange have a win at Duke this season, which might be the best tournament resume win by anybody in the country, aaaaand they’ve lost at home by double figures to Georgia Tech. They have also enjoyed the easiest league schedule in the ACC up to this point.
Syracuse’s perimeter offense is partly to blame for the team’s inconsistent nature—Cuse has made only 32.8% of its threes on the year, and it is more heavily perimeter-oriented than you typically expect.
The good news for the Orange is that their perimeter accuracy has improved to 35.7% in ACC games, which is important since over 45% of their field goal attempts have been from beyond the arc. That is a whole lot of threes for a group that lacks many reliable jump shooters.
When those shots aren’t falling at a decent clip, Syracuse gets itself in trouble because it doesn’t take care of the basketball, doesn’t rebound well, and stinks at the free throw line. In their three league losses, the Orange shot a combined 21-81 (25.9%) from outside, losing all three by at least 14 points. When it falls apart on them, it really falls apart.
They’ve managed okay in general because the defense is solid once again. Jim Boeheim knows exactly which types of players he needs for his 2-3 zone by now, and as usual Syracuse is one of the tallest teams in the country. They lead the nation in block rate and force plenty of turnovers.
They also encourage opponents to settle for outside shots, which opponents have done in huge numbers. I would expect NC State ends up doing the same, which is worrisome.
But there is a path to victory for State despite a poor shooting night, if it comes to that—this game matches up one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country (NCSU is 8th in OR%) against one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the country (Cuse ranks 300th in DR%). That zone is always going to present opportunities for second-chance points, and that’ll definitely be something to watch.