|Yeah, Jerami, it was frustrating for us too|
As the 2-seed in the ACC Tournament, Syracuse earned the "dreaded" double-bye into the quarterfinals. I say dreaded, because Jim Boeheim is on record, at least in recent Big East history, as noting that the high seeds who get that double-bye tend not to do very well. I also say dreaded, because Syracuse shot horribly and lost this one against NC State, 66-63. Poor shooting has been the biggest story over the last five or so weeks for Syracuse, and it was the story the entire game against the Wolfpack. I'll get into the numbers below, but you can imagine how pathetic they are. That's what killed Syracuse in this loss, and if Syracuse loses an NCAA Tournament game, it'll likely be because of poor shooting.
- Despite the horrible shooting, Tyler Ennis managed to score 21 points. He was 6-18 from the field, 3-8 from three, but a solid 6-6 from the line. He had seven assists, five rebounds, and four steals. Statistically, not a terrible game; but think of how differently the game may have been, had Tyler hit a couple more of those shots.
- Jerami Grant was able to start this game, played all 40 minutes, and scored 19 points. He was the most efficient of the SU offense, scoring on 5-7 from the field and 9-13 from the line. His ten rebounds rounded out his double-double, production we haven't seen in a while. Suffice to say, it was great to have Jerami back.
- No one else on Syracuse scored more than nine. One of those niners was CJ Fair, who had (admittedly, I believe), a horrible game: 3-16 shooting, and shut out from three.
- As a team for the game, Syracuse shot 32.7%. That number was even worse in the first half: 25.93%. Looking at the three point attempts, it was a putrid 23.5% for the game.
- Syracuse won the rebounding battle, 36-33; and in fact, won second chance points 11-7. But when you consider NC State had 30 points in the paint, that's a sign the center of the SU zone just didn't get it done.
- I guess in that respect, we'll always wonder "what if" when it comes to the center position this year: what if DaJuan Coleman hadn't gotten hurt & require season-ending surgery? It's a legit what if, because it's not like he was playing lights out when he went down -- but what sort of progress would he have made at the position had he been able to continue to play? And how much did Rakeem Christmas sacrifice having to essentially play out of position for a good chunk of the season?
- Anyone who watched the game live, or a replay of it, or the highlights on SportsCenter, knows what Syracuse had a chance in the last 30 seconds to win this game. No, not a chance. Like, eleventy billion chances. Let me refresh your memory:
- That clip is the perfect demonstration of what's gone wrong with this team: innumerable chances to hit shots, and not hitting them. I mean, especially in that situation when you're down by three, and you miss a shot -- to get the offensive rebound and get a second chance, well, that's gravy. BUT YOU NEED TO MAKE THE SECOND CHANCE SHOT! Syracuse's failure to do so is what ultimately did it in in this game.
- We can't blame that sequence as THE REASON why Syracuse lost. It was similar play the entire game, just not cashing in on good shots. Makes you wonder who sold what to the devil in exchange for opening the season 25-0.
I tweeted after the game that one of my biggest disappointments in losing that quarterfinal to NC State is that Syracuse wouldn't get a third chance -- a rubber match -- against Duke. And with the NCAA brackets now set, we know that rubber match could only come in the National Championship game. And, spoiler alert, that's not what I have for my championship game. Speaking of which, check back here tomorrow for our annual Orange::44 post of our own brackets, and see how you compare with the legal minds of Brian and me. We'll also have all your Orange-related NCAA coverage here, including previews, my on-the-scene recaps from Buffalo, and more. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the Madness!