Syracuse uses midweek games to boost win percentage

first_imgIt’s like clockwork. Every weekend since the beginning of March, Syracuse has faced an Atlantic Coast foe. Three games scheduled each weekend provide tough competition for an SU team that has been swept by its last three conference competitors.Wedged between the big-name ACC teams, scattered on Wednesdays and the rare Tuesday, are SU’s nonconference games.Syracuse (18-17, 4-10 ACC) schedules midweek double-headers against teams in mid-major conferences. SU already has 10 losses in the ACC, the same number it ended with last season, even though Syracuse has nine conference games left. The midweek games against weaker opponents give the Orange an opportunity to be a contender for postseason play. All but one of the opponents Syracuse has faced from mid-major conferences are ranked lower than 200 in the NCAA RPI rankings.“Midweek games are games that we’re supposed to win,” junior Alicia Hansen said.If the Orange loses a midweek game, it could hurt the team’s RPI, Hansen said, which could hurt SU in the postseason. RPI, or rating percentage index, is a formula the NCAA uses as a rankings system. Syracuse is ranked 125th nationally, based off RPI.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFifty percent of the rating comes from opponents’ winning percentage, with 25 percent each coming from the team’s winning percentage and opponents’ win percentages.It essentially combines a team’s strength of schedule with its winning percentage. Peaking at a .652 win percentage after going 4-2 in its first two weekends of conference play, Syracuse has since dropped to a .514 win percentage.Bridget Slomian | Senior Design EditorPlaying mid-major teams can hurt SU’s strength of schedule. Syracuse has the weakest schedule in the ACC at 149th. A reason for its low strength of schedule is influenced by SU’s remaining opponents. Of SU’s remaining nonconference opponents, the strongest is Colgate, ranked 138th.“I think (the midweek teams) look to us because we are in the ACC, regardless of our wins and losses,” senior AnnaMarie Gatti said. “They look to play us just like they would — I hope — just like they would want to play a Florida State or any team that is ranked.”The teams Syracuse faces during the week are all from mid-major conferences. Four teams SU faces are in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, including Wednesday’s opponent, Siena. The MAAC has won 33 percent of its out-of-conference games this season. The ACC in comparison has won 61 percent.“Midweek games are really important because those teams, we’re like the big teams for those teams,” Gatti said, “and like on the weekends, whenever we play the bigger named teams … if you have those wins from the midweek, that just makes it easier.”Despite their spots in the schedule as “must wins” for the Orange, in each of the last three seasons, SU has dropped at least one of the crucial midweek games. This season, it was the 5-1 loss to Army. Last season, it was a 3-2 loss to Colgate.The loss to Colgate last season changed the way Syracuse now approaches midweek games. Prior to losing to the Raiders, SU didn’t watch film before playing on a weekday, Gatti said.“We were losing and (head coach Mike Bosch) was like what are we doing different?” Gatti said. “And it’s not like you have to watch film but it does help our team and watching film on them, it gives us a little more of an advantage and we do respect them.”The midweek games serve a purpose other than to boost SU’s RPI. They help keep SU loose in between weekends, Bosch said.Syracuse is coming off a weekend of being swept by Notre Dame with a total score of 15-2 over three games. Next weekend, SU faces Louisville, which sits one spot higher than the Orange in the ACC rankings. Playing Siena on Wednesday allows the Orange to go into the weekend’s games possibly on a two-game win streak, as opposed to a three-game skid.Players know that while the games are put on the schedule as record-buffers to protect themselves after losing tough ACC games, the teams aren’t going to just give them the win.“Those kids are going Division I too,” Gatti said. “They know how to play and we get their best … they make us better.” Comments Published on April 10, 2018 at 10:45 pm Contact Kaci: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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