We at Orange Fizz usually only bring out the crystal ball for football season, but this year we decided to make an exception and dust it off to give you our predictions for Syracuse basketball in the NCAA Tournament. Here’s what we think about SU’s chances.
I didn’t think Syracuse was very deserving of an at-large bid into the NCAA tourney because of the way it played down the stretch, and a one-and-done performance in the ACC tourney. But once Tulsa was allowed into the field of 68, then SU had to get in as well. Unfortunately, I think this is an early exit for the Orange. Dayton is a very solid 7-seed, coming from an underrated conference (A-10). The Flyers won 25 games, including 14 in a solid A-10, and were #21 in the RPI – a full 50 spots ahead of SU. I think Dayton shoots down the Orange in the first round, 76-68. But I suppose just getting to the Big Dance is an award in itself after such a rocky season.
Syracuse is a tough team to read heading into the NCAA Tournament. Yes, the Orange has lost 5 of 6 to end the regular season, but we have seen in the relatively near past examples of SU teams that have flipped the switch come postseason—check the 2013 Final Four run. This year’s team has the look of a team that can be dangerous if it flips the switch. The Orange plays very good defense, and if it gets hot can make some noise on the offensive end. But, I don’t know that it will matter much. After getting a win against Dayton in round one, Syracuse will run into Michigan State and Tom Izzo in round 2. And if there is one coach I won’t bet against again, it’s Tom Izzo in March. Syracuse bows out after a win in round 1.
Archie Miller’s seventh-seeded Dayton Flyers once again pose a difficult test for tenth seeded Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament. SU’s weak spot has been on the glass this year and Dayton is 38th in Division I in rebounding margin. The Flyers are also stingy on defense allowing opponents to score just over 65 points per game, which is good for 39th best in the country. When these two teams met in the round of 32 in 2014, Dayton held Syracuse to just 18 first half points and the Orange did not hit a three-pointer in the game. That same philosophy meets Syracuse again Friday in the Round of 64. It’s a tough task for a team that’s lost five of six to end the year. If SU does pull off the win, then a meeting with Michigan State looms. I don’t think the Orange get out of St. Louis.
Nobody should be counting out Dayton in the first round, but let’s say for argument’s sake Syracuse is able to get that win and goes on to play Michigan State Sunday. Is the Orange anywhere near as good as Michigan State? No. Have they been playing like a team that could beat Michigan State? No. Was there any point in the season where I thought this was a Sweet Sixteen team? No. But if there’s one thing watching this team has taught me it’s that you never know what you’re going to get, and in March that can play to your advantage. I’ve always been a bit of an optimist with my predictions (or as some people call it, a Cubs fan), so I’ll pick the Orange to get out of St. Louis. I won’t be putting any money on it, though.
Syracuse has the chance to avenge a crushing Round of 32 loss from 2014 when they play the Dayton Flyers on Friday in St. Louis. If we are being honest, Syracuse was lucky to sneak into the field and even more so to avoid having to play a “First Four” game in Dayton.
Making the NCAA tournament had to be the ultimate goal for this team, especially after the way conference play started and finished. Syracuse has lost five of its last six games, and as such, is coming into the NCAA tournament like a wounded animal. Dayton didn’t close out the season in the greatest fashion, though, going 4-4 to close out the season.
In short, Syracuse is likely looking at toss-up game in the first round. As such, it should be their goal to escape the first round and do what they can against, in all likelihood, the Michigan State Spartans in the 2nd round.
What are your NCAA Tournament predictions for the Orange? Let us know in the comments or no Twitter @OrangeFizz.
Posted: Orange Fizz Staff