When asked where Syracuse fit in the NCAA Tournament and ACC picture for SB Nation’s Syracuse blog, Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, my first response was to look at the upcoming home-and-home with Florida State. Both teams are currently in Jerry Palm’s projected bracket but either one could fall from the field of 68 before Selection Sunday with too many missteps in the back half of the ACC schedule.
Syracuse got a huge boost for its résumé by defeating Florida State 85-72 on Thursday behind a strong 22-8 second-half surge that turned a tightly contested game into the seventh win in the past eight outings for the Orange. Veteran big man DaJuan Coleman sparked the team with a 6-0 run on his own and Michael Gbinije led the team with 22 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Malachi Richardson got things started early and finished with 17 points and six rebounds while Tyler Lydon added a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Florida State has not been a great defensive team this season — especially compared to the standard we’ve seen from teams coming out of Tallahassee recently — but Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley, the nation’s highest-scoring freshman duo, kept the game close with 21 combined points in the first half. The Orange helped change that after the break and when shots were tougher to come by — Bacon and Beasley combined for just four second-half points — FSU was unable to match what was one of the crispest nights of offense (62 percent shooting) we’ve seen from this Syracuse team.
Winning seven of eight has put Jim Boeheim’s team back in the thick of the ACC race after an 0-4 start to league play. Most importantly, three of those seven wins have come against likely tournament teams and set Syracuse up for a chance to make a run at the double-bye in the ACC tournament thanks to Louisville’s postseason ban and a manageable schedule between now and the end of the regular season.