By MIKE McCURRY Following a January 21 loss at Notre Dame, Syracuse was 11-9 overall and appeared destined for the NIT, both via the eye test and its anemic NCAA Tournament resume. Since then, the Orange have forced themselves into the bubble conversation by reeling off five straight wins, with the latest of those coming Tuesday on freshman Tyus Battle’s buzzer-beating three-pointer in an 82-81 win at Clemson.
Battle, coming off a career-high 23 points on Saturday, was just 2-of-6 from the field with three points before calmly sinking the game-winner off the dish from Tyler Lydon. Prior to this five-game winning streak, Syracuse (16-9, 8-4 ACC) had a single RPI Top-50 win—against Monmouth back in November—plus a trio of unpleasant setbacks to teams outside the RPI Top-100 in St. John’s, UConn, and Boston College. While those bad losses aren’t going away anytime soon, the Orange have added four RPI Top-50 victories during this hot stretch: Wake Forest, Florida State, Virginia, and now Clemson. That’s the beauty of playing in the ACC. The schedule is peppered with resume-boosting opportunities against marquee opponents practically on a nightly basis. The league is all but a lock to join the 2011 Big East as the only conferences to send double-digit teams to the NCAA Tournament. It’s looking increasingly likely that Syracuse will be included in that, a statement that would have been labeled as absurd just a few weeks ago. Not only that, but Syracuse is sitting at 8-4 in the ACC. That’s currently good for sole possession of fourth place and a mere 1.5 games behind the leading UNC Tar Heels. Syracuse’s remaining schedule features two meetings with Louisville and Georgia Tech in addition to games against Pittsburgh (away) and Duke (home). On Monday, the Orange were part of ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s “Next Four Out.” Don’t be surprised if Lunardi’s next update has Syracuse in the field. Photo: @Cuse_MBB Follow Mike on Twitter Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter And like ZAGS on Facebook
Tyus Battle wins it for Syracusepic.twitter.com/pmrk1Rqi2G — Shoot The Jay (@SportsManCave) February 8, 2017