Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 5, 2016 at 7:19 pm Comments TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Michael Gbinije hobbled across an open court by himself and glanced twice to his left. There, in a corner of the Donald Tucker Civic Center, a mosh pit of Florida State fans and players celebrated 30 minutes after the game ended.Syracuse’s leading scorer finished with a team-high 21 points, but had no say in cementing a furious Syracuse comeback down the stretch, fouling out with 22.8 seconds left. He observed from the bench as Trevor Cooney’s potential game-tying 3 clanked off the front of the rim with 16 seconds remaining.Cooney thought it was going in. Malachi Richardson did too. Even Florida State’s Malik Beasley thought his team-leading 20 points would be nullified by either a make or a renewed Syracuse possession.But neither happened. Instead, Xavier Rathan-Mayes streaked the other way for an uncontested layup to put the final nail in Syracuse’s coffin that the Orange repeatedly staved off. SU’s (19-12, 9-9 Atlantic Coast) quest for double-digit wins in conference was denied despite cutting a 10-point lead to two in the final two minutes. And with a 78-73 loss to Florida State (18-12, 8-10), the uncertainty of Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament hopes looms larger heading into the ACC tournament next week.“I’m not going to talk about it,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. ”What good would that do? My opinion is the selection committee will have to determine who the best teams are in the country. We’ve got (31) games already and then they’ll have the tournament also. They’ll have to make that judgement. That’s my opinion, but it’s no answer because I’m not going to answer that.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter Virginia Tech beat Miami on Saturday evening, it solidified the Orange as the No. 9 seed at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. next week. Syracuse will face eighth-seeded Pittsburgh, who has beat SU twice this season and outrebounded the Orange by a combined 38 boards in two matchups.Against the Seminoles on Saturday, Syracuse was bullied down low to the tune of a 43-26 rebounding margin in favor of the hosts. Three different Florida State players grabbed eight rebounds while nobody on Syracuse corralled more than five.It’s a problem SU shed in the middle of conference play, but the last five games have seen Syracuse get outrebounded by 56 while allowing over 71 points per game.“We got a lot of stuff to work on defensively,” Tyler Lydon said, “so it’s just a matter of going back, getting ready.”After winning eight of nine games in the middle of ACC play, Syracuse has dropped four of its last five. Following Syracuse’s most recent loss to Pittsburgh, Gbinije said he had an idea of where Syracuse stood on the bubble but didn’t want to discuss it. Cooney too left that up to those outside the team. Boeheim echoed the same.On Saturday, it was no different, with Syracuse likely slipping further toward the cut line of the 68-team field with an opponent that has twice blown Syracuse away down the stretch up next.“It’s hard but it’s just something we’ve got to improve on and make sure we get better,” Richardson said of finishing games. “Get ready for the ACC tournament.”When Richardson was asked if he had a gauge on what Syracuse needed to do next week to secure an NCAA Tournament bid, he stared straight at the ground and mumbled “I don’t know” twice.Just minutes later, a Florida State staff member cracked open the door to Syracuse’s locker room and handed Richardson four boxes of soap. Richardson extended both arms in the air holding the bars and screamed “Soap!” with a wide smile across his face in a silent locker room before declaring that was the deal-breaker for him to take a shower.A win in the ACC tournament may result in the same change in emotion, but Saturday’s loss amplifies the uncertainty.One by one, players moved from their lockers. Richardson went to the shower, Tyler Roberson trudged across the open court to the team bus and Gbinije followed. With ice bags latched onto his knees and right hand, Gbinije remained stoic, observing a celebration that leaves Syracuse with questions that weren’t given answers, and ones that may not have them yet.Matt Schneidman is the Sports Editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] or @matt_schneidman.