It was a little more than one month ago that the Syracuse Orange were 25-0 and rolling through the ACC. Orange fans were sticking their chests out and beaming with the sizzling start that had some even speculating about a perfect regular season. Then came the home loss to Boston College, followed by a road setback at Cameron against Duke -- the one in which Jim Boeheim went bananas at the end of the game after a controversial call. There was a loss at Virginia, another home setback to Georgia Tech, an early exit to NC State in the ACC tourney, and finally the loss to Dayton on Saturday in the NCAA tourney.
It just shows the importance of scheduling. Boeheim is known for a soft non-conference schedule and his unwillingness to leave the state of New York. But in this case, it was a back-loaded ACC slate that helped all of us overrate the Orange. Syracuse knocked off a single NCAA tournament team away from the Carrier Dome in the non-conference slate: Baylor. The Orange beat Villanova, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Duke and NC State, but all of those came in the friendly confines of the Dome. The lone quality true road win against a tourney team came on Feb. 12 at Pittsburgh.
The Orange had talent and had racked up 25 consecutive victories, but a lack of depth and the schedule caught up with them.