With dwindling hopes of making it back to the NCAA tournament, Syracuse (19-12, 8-10) heads to Brooklyn for a first round ACC tournament match up with Wake Forest (11-19, 4-14) at the Barclays Center.
Syracuse joined the ACC back in 2013 when the Big East folded. Fast forward to 2018 and the Orange is set to play in its fourth ACC tournament (it sat out in 2015 because of a self-imposed ban). 'Cuse is still searching for its first ever win in the conference tournament.
It lost an ugly game to North Carolina State in 2014. 2016 featured a one-point loss to Pittsburgh as Cameron Johnson came off the bench to score 24. Last year, the Orange failed to complete the comeback against Miami, and so the record for Syracuse in the ACC tournament sits at 0-3.
The streak could end against a struggling Wake Forest team. The Demon Deacons did beat Syracuse in early January, but since then have lost 10 of their final 12, including a 78-70 loss to the Orange in the Carrier Dome. Tyus Battle scored a career-high 34 points to help seal the victory.
Syracuse attacked the basket throughout that game, drawing contact and getting to the line. The Orange attempted an absurd 39 free throws in that win over Wake Forest, the most it has taken all year. However, the Orange only made 26 of its shots from the line. Those missed shots coupled with the Demon Deacons hitting 9-13 three pointers in the second half kept the game close.
Defensively, the Orange looked much stronger in its last game though, a 55-52 win over Clemson. The team limited Clemson's looks from behind the arc, as the Tigers shot just over 30 percent.
Despite the improved team defense, the Orange still allowed Marcquise Reed to heat up. He was the only Clemson player to hit a three in the game and he finished with five triples. Syracuse has struggled to shut down hot three-point shooters this season, often allowing them to single-handedly keep a game close.
Wake Forest does not lack three-point shooters either. Mitchell Wilbekin and Bryant Crawford combined to hit eight shots from behind the arc against the Orange when they visited the Carrier Dome. Wilbekin is the fifth-most efficient scorer from deep in the conference. The Demon Deacons are third in the ACC in three point field goal percentage.
If Syracuse secures its first ever ACC tournament win, it will play again Wednesday against twelfth-ranked North Carolina.