By Mike Waters | Posted February 13, 2019 at 07:00 AM | Updated February 13, 2019 at 05:08 PM
Dennis Nett | email@example.com
The Syracuse Orange is entering the toughest portion of its schedule, and it all begins on Wednesday with a game at North Carolina State.
Syracuse is currently 17-7 overall and 8-3 ACC. Of the Orange’s last seven conference games, four will be against ranked opponents, and the three games against unranked opponents are all on the road.
North Carolina State brings a 17-7 record into Wednesday’s game. The Wolfpack is 5-6 in the ACC after a 79-76 win at Pittsburgh on Saturday. That snapped a three-game losing streak for the Pack.
Syracuse is 4-1 on the road in the ACC this season, while N.C. State is 2-3 at home. However, those three home losses have come against North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Tipoff for Wednesday’s game at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Here are 10 things to watch for:
NCAA implications for Syracuse
For the moment, Syracuse is well inside in the NCAA bubble and in the tournament field. The Orange is at No. 48 in the NCAA’s NET rankings and 42nd in KenPom.com’s ratings.
The final stretch of the regular season will offer Syracuse will multiple opportunities to bolster its NCAA resume.
Of the Orange’s last seven games, six would currently fall into the NCAA’s Quadrant 1. North Carolina State, which is at No. 35 in the NET rankings, is the first of those six Quadrant 1 foes.
Syracuse is currently 2-3 in Quadrant 1 games with road wins at Ohio State and Duke and losses to Virginia Tech, Florida State and Buffalo.
If Syracuse can pick up one or two Quad-1 wins in the last month of the season, it would be in great shape in terms of making the NCAA tournament.
NCAA implications for N.C. State
Syracuse isn’t the only team in Wednesday’s game with an eye toward the NCAA tournament.
North Carolina State is also well off the NCAA bubble, for now, but the Wolfpack still has to get some work done to remain there.
The Wolfpack is at No. 35 in the NET and No. 39 in KenPom’s ratings.
What hurts N.C. State is its non-conference schedule, which is rated 351st in the country. The Wolfpack is 1-6 in Quad-1 games, and it has only two Quad-1 games left — at Duke and at Florida State. N.C. State’s lone Quad-1 win came at home against Auburn.
With so few Quad-1 opportunities left, Wednesday’s game against Syracuse becomes more important. Syracuse would offer the Wolfpack a chance to get a solid Quad-2 win, and the Wolfpack is 5-0 in Quad-2 games this season.
Dennis Nett | firstname.lastname@example.org
SU’s tenacious zone
When most people think of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense being tough on opponents, they tend to focus on shooting percentages.
Historically, Syracuse does a very good job of defending the 3-point shot out of its zone. This year, the Orange is holding ACC opponents to 33 percent shooting from 3-point range, which ranks sixth in the conference.
That’s not bad, but where the zone gets really good is in areas that most people wouldn’t associate with the zone: Steals and turnovers.
Syracuse ranks 11th in the country in turnover percentage and 13th in the country in steals percentage.
That means a defense many tend to think of as stagnant and stationary is actually harassing teams into a high number of mistakes.
Can Syracuse come up with steals and turnover against North Carolina State?