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Breaking Down the Brackets: An Early Stab at a Karmic Run to New Orleans

Projected brackets make me unreasonably excited. There’s something about the combination of math, geography and matchups that create the perfect algorithm for time and brain wasting. But this winter it’s exceptionally intriguing because of the cards Syracuse holds. Barring a final three game collapse and first round Big East Tournament exit, SU should have a #1 seed. Unless there’s an Arinze Onuaku-type injury, the Orange should be heading to the Boston regional. And so it’s time to start dissecting potential opponents.

It’s a crazy, delusional dart game – throwing pegs with an increasingly smaller chance of hitting. With games left even before the conference tournaments, it’s impossible to figure the future. But Joe Lunardi has created a career out of it. And thus, as college basketball fans, we must need this to survive.

SI.com’s Andy Glockner released his most recent bracket, and Syracuse was an obvious #1 seed in the Boston region. But he’s got a mildly terrifying 1/16 matchup: SU versus Vermont. Look, no #16 has ever advanced, and it’s not happening this year. But we’d all rather sleep well the night before a matchup against Savannah State instead of the historically pesky Catamounts. But hey, bring on UVM and let’s clear that karma out of the way early. 

It’s a shame there’s no closer first weekend site than Pittsburgh. Syracuse Nation always travels extremely well in the tourney, and Boston will be blindingly Orange in hue. But the prospect of heading out to Western PA is going to keep a number of SU fans at home. The second-round opponent, according to Glockner, would be the winner of Harvard/Southern Miss. SU should be able to beat either one, but a matchup against Boston College-killer Hahvahd is not going to be a breeze. Tommy Amaker owns ex-Cornell coach Steve Donohue at BC, and that’s just a tad worrisome. (Harvard also recently produced some NBA dude – Lin, or something?)

In the Sweet 16, SI.com projects potential foes Vanderbilt or Indiana. SU, at its best, can easily beat both of them. But how karmic would it be if Jim Boeheim dispatched the Hoosiers en route to New Orleans again? In ’87, the Orange(men) lost to Indiana on Keith (bleeping) Smart’s jumper for the title at the Super Dome. IU is a good, young team, but probably a year away from real damage in the tourney. Slay the candy-cane striped dragon, Jim. 

And in the Elite 8? The #2 seed which could be waiting is UNC. The Heels are one of The Fizz’s toughest potential matchups for SU, but there really is no good two-seed. But how about facing Michigan State and Tom Izzo? SU could get some redemption for the Sweet 16 collapse in ’00 to the eventual champs. There’s a dangerous Jared Sullinger and Ohio State. It would be delightful to eliminate the ol’ Kansas Jayhawks again, wouldn’t it? Shades of ’03. Of course, plenty can change from now until Selection Sunday. But if these are the crew of road blocks to a Final Four, you can’t really cross your fingers and hope for one, can you?

The beauty of the brackets is that chalk never has an open door to the end. So, SU will not automatically face the #8, #4, and #2 seeds next month. But it’s never to early to stare at the laptop screen and start imagining what SU’s road to N’Awlins will look like. It’s bracket time, baby. Time to dream.

Posted: D.A.

 

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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