By Trey Redfield
CitrusTV’s Men’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
In case you haven’t been keeping track of the ACC men’s lacrosse season, it’s a mess. The word “mess” might be an understatement.
The conference’s top four teams sit in the top five in the latest Inside Lacrosse poll, respectively.
After an overtime thriller last night, #4 Duke’s win over #3 Virginia gives the Blue Devils a commanding lead in the best lacrosse conference this season by far. Look a little bit farther down the totem pole and there sits the Orange.
SU started out strong with an early 20-10 statement win over Virginia. But March came around, leading to a skid. Syracuse lost by one-goal to Duke on March 25, followed by a humiliating 18-11 loss in the Dome to Notre Dame on April 2.
But what if I told you there’s still a chance?
I know, call me crazy. But I mean it. Come May 1, when Syracuse plays Notre Dame in South Bend, this team has the chance to shock the nation. But here is what has to go down across the conference. Let me remind you, there is no conference tournament this year. A regular season title has never meant so much more.
No. 4 Duke (11-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast)
Unless your name is Notre Dame, you have the tiniest of chances of stopping Duke. But speaking of the Fighitng Irish, that’s who the Blue Devils play next. If Duke loses to Notre Dame in Durham, a place it has not lost since losing 14-13 to Air Force on February 1, 2020, that puts the Blue Devils at 2-3 in conference play.
But wait. It gets better.
A loss to North Carolina on May 2 puts the Blue Devils at 3-3 in the ACC. You will see. A 3-3 record is the magic record for Syracuse.
No. 2 Notre Dame (6-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast)
It’s fitting to put arguably the two best teams in the ACC back-to-back. Duke has an arsenal that is led by Michael Sowers and Brennan O’Neill, all led by one of, if not, the greatest coach of all time, John Danowski. But Notre Dame beat these guys last Saturday, April 10. You can thank point scoring machine Pat Kavanagh (5.57 PPG, second in the ACC) and the best goalie in the ACC–at least–in Liam Entemann (5.97 SV%) for that result.
Give them the win against the Blue Devils, but this is where it gets interesting in South Bend.
If Notre Dame loses to North Carolina on April 25, a quick turnaround from Duke on April 22, followed by a home loss to Syracuse on May 1, then boom goes the dynamite. That puts the Irish at 3-3. Going .500 has never felt better.
No. 3 Virginia (9-3, 2-3 Atlantic Coast)
So as stated previously, the Cavaliers lost to the Blue Devils last night in overtime. That’s fine. If you’re a Syracuse fan, you’re only sweating a little. Not a lot, but a little. As shown above, UVA sits at 2-3 in the ACC with two games left on the schedule.
Tomorrow (yes, a quick turnaround), it’s Utah, who Syracuse was supposed to play on May 8 but was canceled, but that does not matter one bit. Speaking of Syracuse, that’s who Lars Tiffany and his squad play next on April 24. If the Hoos lose that one, they fall to 2-4 in conference play, making them completely irrelevant in any ACC championship talk.
No. 5 North Carolina (8-2, 1-2 Atlantic Coast)
Let’s kick things back to my home state of North Carolina, where the Tar Heels are at the bottom of the totem pole with the Orange. UNC has lost two straight, but has to make it three straight if SU wants to keep its hopes for its first ACC title since 2016 alive. After that though, then the Tar Heels can win some games.
But if North Carolina loses to Syracuse tomorrow, then the rest of UNC’s schedule doesn’t matter. But why? Because Carolina will have at least three losses. A loss to the Orange shrinks the Heels’ ceiling (or the roof, however Michael Jordan wants to describe it) in the ACC to 3-3. The floor is 1-5. And for Syracuse, either case is the best case scenario.
No. 9 Syracuse (5-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast)
You know what they say. You save the best for last. That is where we find Syracuse. Just like the article title, the formula for the Orange to make this dream a reality is simple. In the words of Al Davis, “Just win, baby!”
SU has three games left on its schedule–all of them in the ACC. Syracuse has to win out, defeating North Carolina, Virginia, then Notre Dame. Do the math, and it gives you a 4-2 record in the ACC.
4-2 is cool. So what?
So not only does this scenario give Syracuse a share of an ACC title. It gives the ‘Cuse an outright ACC victory. I might be insane, but it can be done. A conference title has never meant so much more. Along with the fact that it is a regular season title this time around, but a championship in a conference like this is like coming out of the dogfight alive.
I said it already. Call me crazy. Call me insane. Call me a lunatic. I’m here for it. I may have been off to a bad start with my season prediction. But this team can mathematically do the impossible. Am I a math major? No. Will I ever do math after this? That doesn’t matter. The question for Syracuse is, why not start now?
Ready or not, it all starts tomorrow with senior day. The Orange face the Tar Heels at 3:00 for the final time in the Dome this season, pending the first round of the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship.
@trey_redfield | email@example.com