Syracuse came perhaps as close as it has all year to losing a game when the Orange slid out of Pittsburgh with a victory on a three-point buzzer-beater by Tyler Ennis on Wednesday. But according to some interesting stats dug up by ESPN Stats & Info and written about by Eamonn Brennan — who always has intriguing nuggets in his columns — the dynamic freshman saving the day is not all that rare. During the final five minutes of regulation and overtime games this year, Ennis has been a stunning 8-for-9 from the field and connected on 14 of 14 free throws, adding six assists and no turnovers in that time, Brennan wrote. On game-tying or go-ahead plays, Ennis is 4-for-4 from the floor and 8-for-8 from the line.
• Speaking of the Orange — those who believe Syracuse has had a much stronger season than Wichita State should think twice, Ken Pomeroy said. The respected stats guru pointed out in his blog that before the Pitt game, all five of Syracuse’s road victories — St. John’s, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Miami (Fla.) and Wake Forest — were less than intimidating based on the weaker home-court advantages in those buildings. Along the same lines, folks should take into account the incredible home atmosphere at the Carrier Dome, which has been well-documented. So like the Shockers, Syracuse has benefited from a lighter schedule as well, Pomeroy argued, although things should get considerably more dicey down the stretch. Pomeroy gives the Orange only a 6.1 percent chance at finishing the regular season undefeated, compared to 70.2 percent for Wichita State.
• Should experience equal success? Not this year, Dan Hanner of realgm.com said, pointing out that teams such as Harvard, Boise State, Boston College, North Dakota State, Elon and Penn all returned extremely high percentages of minutes from last season, but none of those teams has improved within its league, and most of them have actually gotten notably worse. However, Oklahoma State headlines that disappointing group. Despite returning 89 percent of minutes from a very strong 2012-13 team, the current Cowboys have stumbled to a 4-6 record in the Big 12 while their defensive and margin-of-victory numbers have gotten worse.