Wake Forrest Demon Deacons (11-19) at Syracuse Orange (19-12)
We came up short last night when we backed the San Francisco Dons against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the WCC conference tournament semi-finals. The 13 points seemed much too high for two teams that had played two competitive games against each other already this year.
I mentioned the X-factor would be the play of Gonzaga’s big men, specifically Killian Tilly and his ability to shoot from the outside. Tilly went 5-5 from deep in Gonzaga’s quarterfinals victory against Loyola Marymount, and a similar performance would be hard for the Dons to fade.
Well, Tilly had the best game of his short Gonzaga career and went for 26 points. Including another perfect 5-5 from beyond the arc. The Zags couldn’t miss all night long and made 12 three-pointers. It was a masterful performance yet again from the Zags would have now made the WCC conference tournament finals every year since 1996.
What a run for Mark Few and the Zags, nobody wants to play this team in the NCAA tournament. Today I will shift gears from the WCC tournament to the ACC tournament when we look at the first-round matchup between the Wake Forrest Demon Deacons and the Orange of Syracuse.
The Syracuse Orange find themselves squarely on the bubble as the ACC tournament kicks off today from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Syracuse gave themselves a bit of hope of an at-large bid by upsetting Clemson in the regular season finale but must take care of business tonight against a bad Wake Forrest team.
For Wake, they are looking to finish out what has been a very disappointing season. The Demon Deacons only finished above the zero-win Pittsburg Panthers in the ACC this year. Syracuse is -5-point favorites. The game total over-under is set at 133 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from Brooklyn.
What an up and down season it has been for Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange. The Orange have some great wins on their resume. Wins against Maryland, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Miami, and Clemson have Boeheim thinking his team is tournament bid-worthy. But losses to the likes of Boston College, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forrest have the committee looking at this team with a very skeptical eye.
It really looked like the end was near after Syracuse lost to Boston College on February 28th. That looked a lot like a must-win game for the Orange, and they laid a complete egg against a bad B.C. team. But as Jim Boeheim seems to always do, he created just a little bit of magic and managed to beat a good Clemson team in the last game of the season to put Syracuse’s name back in the at-large bid conversation.
If it were up to me, I would put the Orange in the tournament. Yes, they have been really inconsistent and are a very flawed team this year, but what bubble team is perfect? Do you put the Orange in over teams like St. Mary’s, Oakland, or Eastern Tennessee State, teams that have beaten nobody? I don’t.
You have to be able to beat good teams to get into the field, and Syracuse has proven that this season time and again. It is a bit funny that their tournament chances will likely come down to beating a bad team tonight in Wake Forrest.
Wake Forrest is not a good team. But they have managed to be a thorn in the side of a couple teams looking to break through into the field of 68 this year and could play major spoilers tonight against Syracuse.
Syracuse and Florida State are both teams sitting right at the cut line that might not be if they hadn’t tripped up and lost to this Demon Deacon’s team this year. It is a nasty smudge on both of their records. The Demon Deacons will look to eliminate the Orange from at-large bid contention tonight with the upset.
I don’t really know why I like Syracuse so much in this matchup. Maybe its because they showed me so much heart in beating Clemson in their last game. Maybe its because Wake Forrest is playing for nothing while the Orange are playing for everything. But you know what it probably is? Jim Boeheim.
The long-tenured coach has won 922 games at Syracuse. He has been in this exact spot more times than I can count, and somehow always seems to find a way to get the job done. So why do I think Syracuse is going to win and cover tonight? Because Jim Boeheim will make them.
College basketball is much more about the coach than the players. This is nowhere near the best team that he has coached at Syracuse, but they are talented enough to make the tournament and must win tonight to prove that to the committee. I’m not exactly sure how, but Boeheim figures out a way to get it done tonight.
Give me the Syracuse Orange -5-points tonight from the Barclays Center!