Every little superstition Jim Boeheim may have partaken in today paid off. Syracuse snuck into the field as a Last Four In team in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, SU was not just a Last Four In, but a Last One In. The committee said that Syracuse was team number 68 into the field. The Orange is an 11 seed and will face Arizona State in a play-in game in Dayton on Wednesday, March 14.
Cue the collective groan from Notre Dame fans, Mid-Major teams and Joe Lunardi. This was certainly a strange field that the committee selected. Here are the reasons why Syracuse got in:
Strength of Schedule
Syracuse ended the season with the 18th best strength of schedule. Head-to-head matchups do not appear to have made a huge impact. Notre Dame was bumped from the tournament after Davidson captured the Atlantic 10 title, according to the committee. The Fighting Irish had a big road win without its two best players early in the ACC schedule. The Orange certainly benefited from playing a bevy of tournament-caliber teams, as well as teams that play in the Power Five conferences.
These “Quadrant One” wins certainly were a factor, and Syracuse picked up arguably two of its most vital ones away from Central New York. The Orange’s wins over Louisville and Miami helped SU tremendously. Last season, the lack of road wins were deemed the reason the Orange got left out, but it was quite the opposite this season.
Thank the good lord for Nate Oats and the Buffalo Bulls. The MAC champs turned out to be one of Syracuse’s biggest wins this season. This feisty bunch kept working its way up the RPI rankings and ultimately making itself a quadrant one team. The Orange getting that extra quadrant one victory may have been enough to push it over the top and get that final spot in the tournament.
It’s been an unbelievable ride, and it’s not over yet. Anything goes once you get into the tournament. Stay locked in with us on Twitter @OrangeFizz and on SoundCloud for the latest SU tournament content.