By: Christopher Williamson
While most of the SU students still enjoy the last of it spring vacation(including myself), the number 11 Syracuse (27-4) basketball team's break ends tonight at 7pm in the quarterfinals against N.C. State (20-12). It undoubtedly starts a tough path to the ACC championship that could also feature opponents such as Duke and Virginia.
But lets not get ahead of ourselves here especially given the Cuse's knack to play just about every game down to the last second. The last time SU and the Wolfpack met, SU struggled mightily offensively in a nail- biting 56-55 controversial win. The Orange shot just 35 percent from the field and needed a last second steal that led to C.J. Fair's game winning layup.
That contest happened to be one of the nine straight games that the Orange failed to put up more than 70. Syracuse also fell on the right side of the officiating when newly anointed ACC player of year T.J. Warren scored on a last minute layup from an inbounds pass. It was ruled no good though because a foul occurred before the shot attempt and N.C. State had to take it out of bounds. The rest is history.
Fast forward to tonight and the Orange look to build on their momentum after an impressive 74-58 blowout win over Florida State in one of its most complete games. This coincided with the return of one of SU'S most valuable players its leading rebounder Jerami Grant (sore back) who returned to the court with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Before then, the Cuse lost 4 of its last 5 games, two to inferior opponents in Boston College and Georgia Tech thanks to injuries and a sputtering offense.
And with Syracuse starting the tournament tonight, it seems the door has opened up for the one seed in the East Region. It almost seems that the teams are playing hot potato with the number one seed these days. A couple weeks ago there was no question that at 25-0 Syracuse would stay in the state of NY for the path to the Final Four, but 4 losses in the last 6 games, caused the Orange to fall out of consideration for the one seed. Just a day ago, third ranked Villanova was slated to be one of the number one seeds in almost all the brackets along with Wichita State Florida, and Arizona, but after being upset by Seton Hall 64-63 last night on a buzzer beater, Syracuse has a shot to reclaim that fourth number one seed if it was to win the ACC tournament.
If the men in Orange want to have any shot of getting a number one seed they will have to figure out how to contain ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren who led the league in scoring and field goal percentage at 24.8 points per game and about 53% percent respectively. In the second round of the tournament Warren dropped 24 in its 67-58 win over Miami and we can be certain revenge will be on N.C. State's minds.
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