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We witnessed a bit of a meltdown at the Garden today as Syracuse was upset by Georgetown and now faces serious questions about their Final Four chances. 'Cuse looked out of sorts in the second half, specifically on offense. Known for playing team basketball all year, Syracuse decided to play selfish basketball over the last 10 minutes. They shot too many ill-advised three-pointers and forced too many things off the dribble. The responsibility falls mostly on point guard Scoop Jardine, who decided to take things upon himself in the final minute when the game was still close. How the ball doesn't go through Kris Joseph or Wesley Johnson is something I'm still trying to figure out. You also can't discount the fact that Georgetown had the advantage of seeing the 'Cuse zone twice already this year.
So what's next for the Orange?
There's still a lot that needs to happen before they lose a #1 seed. They've still got quality wins over West Virginia, Villanova, Georgetown (twice), Marquette, California, and Florida. There aren't that many strong resumes out there. The worst possible scenario for Syracuse is if Duke wins the ACC Tournament, West Virginia wins the Big East Tournament, Ohio State or Purdue win the Big Ten Tournament, and Kansas State wins the Big 12 Tournament. Anyone will acknowledge those are a lot of "Ifs." It's not even necessarily the case that 'Cuse would lose a #1 seed if all those things happened. They've still got a very good body of work and there's still a whole weekend of basketball to play. It's also very evident that the quality of the projected #2 seeds aren't as high as in recent years.
What's more disconcerting is how Syracuse enters the NCAA Tournament following their second consecutive loss. Arinze Onuaku went down with a knee injury against Georgetown and word is he "heard something pop." The Orange can ill afford to lose one of their rotation players as their bench isn't deep as is. (As Coach Jim Boeheim says, they have "seven starters" and that's about it.) Turnovers continue to be a worry for this team with two inexperienced point guards and a fifth year senior in Andy Rautins, who doesn't seem to value the basketball as much as he should. Most importantly, will they continue to forget to play the solid fundamental basketball that got them to this point? We'll know soon enough, but I for one am a little more wary of Cuse's chances compared to where I was two weeks ago.