As the NCAA tournament gets closer, one thing is impossible to miss as a Syracuse fan. The Orange has a chance to play in Buffalo and Madison Square Garden the first two weekends of the tournament, before a potential Final Four in Dallas. Playing at these venues, especially after last year’s trip to California, would be a welcomed sight for the Orange. With two losses in the last week, and a tough schedule to end the year, including Virginia, it is possible that Syracuse could be looking at falling a line to a two-seed in the tournament.
Though Jim Boeheim and the Orange have no control over the answer, the question remains: is it better to be the no. 1 seed in the west, south, or midwest, where the Orange would play in Anaheim, Memphis and Indianapolis, respectively? Especially given that Buffalo and MSG would both be de-facto home games for the Orange.
Now, under newer tournament seeding protocol, the selection committee usually tries to match the no. 1 seeds with home-court advantage when possible. Florida, Arizona and Wichita State don’t exactly have “home-court advantage” in any of the four regional locations, so it is very possible that if the Orange gets a one-seed, it would be in the East regional, with trips to Buffalo and MSG.
But, should something happen, or another team pops into play for a top seed with home-court advantage, the Orange could shuffle. Is the difference between being a one-seed and a two-seed greater than the difference between Buffalo and MSG and playing in San Antonio and Memphis?
Boeheim or some players might answer that there is no difference where they play in the typical coach/player speak. But keep in mind what Boeheim said after a game earlier in the season against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. Boeheim said that it was great to be back in New York City and how it was great to be able to play there because they left the Big East and the Big East Tournament. Boeheim would love to be able to keep the travel to the minimum and go to Buffalo and New York City.
Home-court advantage can be huge; just look at the way 35,000+ screaming fans can help the Orange, or how the Cameron Crazies can help Duke. Seeding, on the other hand, does not create a big disadvantage. Just look at who made the Final Four last year. Two four-seeds, a nine-seed, and a one-seed made it to Atlanta. Remember, Florida Gulf Coast and La Salle made the Sweet 16 as a 15- and 13-seed, respectively, last year. That’s not to say seeding doesn’t matter, but it is more about who you play and where you play than it is about who the one-seed is.
The answer? Boeheim and the Orange would likely take the one-seed and less travel every time.
Posted by: Seth Goldberg