Syracuse failed to guard anyone last night and fell to UMASS 107-100 at the Carrier Dome.
I've tried to decide what this means and how it will play out in the hours since the loss and I haven't come up with anything yet. But I do know that if Syracuse doesn't make the tournament again this year, thye can whine and complain until they're blue in the face, or they could just win games like this.
And truly this wasn't a game they should have lost. Nor did it seem like a game the Orange would lose. But there they were 35 minutes into it despite scoring 90+ points, the same place we had started, tied with the opposition. Obviously, UMASS isn't a bad team. They have now won 5 of 6. But they are the type of team you beat if you are an NCAA tournament. Particularly on your home floor.
In addition, this Syracuse team continues to look sensational on offense at times during the contest. But it is sporadic, and inconsistent. And they just don't defend. Last night the Minutemen made 14 three-pointers, while shooting 52% from the floor. Much of it wasn't against the Orange zone. And much of the problem is because Syracuse guards Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf can't stop penetration.
As a result, the Orange wasted a performance that saw four starters score 20+ points, and the fifth Paul Harris record a double-double, as they fell to 4-2.
Syracuse doesn't get enough credit for scheduling these type of mid-major programs. UMASS's performance last night was clearly one of the top-5 performances of the day. Syracuse's schedule is largely criticized because the Orange doesn't go on the road often in the early season. But they will play just about anyone at home. And when enough teams get a shot, as St. Joe's and Siena already had this year, someone will take advantage. Drexel and Wichita State did last year, Bucknell and Charlotte have in the past. But still last night should not have been a loss, and if the Orange does not perform during the regular Big East season, it could be a loss that will hurt long into March.