In what may end up being even a bigger roller coaster of a season than last year, Syracuse lost to No. 7 Louisville in a lopsided 88-68 game at the Yum! Center Saturday. The Orange has been flirting with the bubble ever since its five-game winning streak midseason, and as the season nears an end SU lost its last chance at a resume booster to the Cardinals. Some Syracuse fans needed a win against Louisville to feel safe on Selection Sunday, but SU’s tournament bid is already locked in, or at least it should be.
Let’s say, for sake of argument, Syracuse was in the tournament before the Louisville game. If that is the case, then what does a blowout to Louisville change? Nobody was expecting SU to go into the Yum! Center and get a win. In fact, most of the country was probably expecting a blowout loss for the Orange. Does it change what you think about Syracuse in relation to the tournament? If you thought the Orange was out a loss to Louisville doesn’t change your opinion, and if you thought Syracuse was in before a big loss to the No. 7 team in the country isn’t what will keep the Orange out of the March fun.
The upcoming game against Georgia Tech is a different story. The Yellow Jackets are still fighting for their season, and a win against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome would be big for both teams. But could Syracuse survive a loss to Georgia Tech? If the Orange is a notch above the other teams on the bubble, a loss to GT brings Syracuse back down to that level, but Syracuse fans still shouldn’t be sweating on Selection Sunday. The Orange has wins no other bubble team has. SU has three wins against teams in the top 25 in RPI (Florida State, Virginia and Duke). The only team in Joe Lunardi’s “Last Four In” who can compare to that record is (and of course it is) Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have wins over Notre Dame, VCU, North Carolina and Florida State. The other three teams have a combined two. They both come from Seton Hall, who has beaten Creighton and Xavier. Are you giving Seton Hall a bid with those two wins over Syracuse’s top 20 wins? A loss in the season finale might push Georgia Tech over Syracuse, but it won’t help everyone else who needs to leap frog the Orange.
Syracuse should be a lock in the NCAA Tournament at this point, no matter what happens the rest of the way. The Orange has the wins to be a tournament team if Selection Sunday were today, and even a pair of losses to end the season can’t take away the wins SU has. At the same time, I thought there was no way Syracuse would make the tournament last season, so what do I know?
Posted: Nathan Dickinson