It seems weird now -- not to mention like forever ago. But the following statement is true: Syracuse was 25-0 and ranked No. 1 in both national polls less than a month ago.
Less. Than. A. Month. Ago.
There were 97 ballots turned in on Feb. 17 by voters who participate in the Associated Press poll or the Coaches poll, and 96 of those ballots had the Orange in the top slot. Needless to say, life was good for Jim Boeheim; he was smiling a lot ... or, at least, a lot for Jim Boeheim. But then he lost to Boston College at home, got ejected in the final seconds of a loss at Duke, and it's been a bit of a mess ever since -- the latest example being Friday night's 66-63 loss to North Carolina State in the ACC tournament quarterfinals.
Put another way, this team that was 25-0 and ranked No. 1 less than a month ago didn't win a single game in its conference tournament. Consequently, the Orange will enter Selection Sunday with a 27-5 record, meaning they've lost five of their past seven games.
Three of those losses came to unranked teams.
Two of those losses came at home.
So congrats to North Carolina State, and T.J. Warren was awesome again late Friday while getting 28 points on only 21 shots. But the story here still is undeniably Syracuse, which by the way, missed a layup, a dunk and four 3-pointers in 21 seconds on its final possession.
That sequence has already been set to appropriate music.
"We needed a 3 at that point," Boeheim told reporters afterward. "We got four looks at it, which is more than you normally get."
Did I mention that one of those looks bounced off of the top of the backboard?
Because it did.
It was that kind of night for the Orange, and it's been that kind of month for the Orange, too. To be clear, they'll still get a No. 3 seed or a No. 4 seed or something like that in the NCAA Tournament, and they'll still be dangerous in the bracket, I guess. But can a team that hasn't won two in a row in more than a month win four in a row to make another Final Four?
But it's been a while since Syracuse looked like a threat to do anything.