Syracuse enters its matchup against Baylor as an 8-seed – tied for the third-lowest it has been since the NCAA began tournament seeding in 1979. Interestingly enough, while SU’s seeding this year may not compare favorably with the rich history of its program, fans should still wait to set their expectations accordingly.
In 2015-2016, the Orange sneaked into the dance as a 10-seed, which was the lowest Syracuse had ever been. But that meant absolutely nothing to the Orange, who behind Michael Gbinije and a certain 21-point second half from Malachi Richardson, became the first 10-seed ever to reach the Final Four. It was Syracuse’s sixth Final Four appearance in school history, tying them for the eighth-most all-time.
After falling on the wrong side of the bubble in 2016-2017, the Orange returned to the dance in 2018. This time, it was as an 11-seed, breaking the mark Syracuse had set the last time it made the tournament. The Orange wound up proving its worth as an at-large, on-the-bubble bid, reaching the Sweet 16 where it gave No. 2 Duke a run for its money.
Looking at more of the latest Syracuse trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Orange has reached the dance nine of the last 11 years. In each of those nine trips, SU has won at least one game. In three of the nine, Syracuse reached the Sweet 16 (2009, 2010, 2018). Once, they have reached the Elite 8 (2012), and in 2013 and 2016, the Orange found itself in the Final Four. All in all, that adds up to a rather impressive stretch spanning just over a decade.
As an 8-seed this year, Syracuse looks to avoid repeating what it did the last – and only other – time it was seeded as such. The year was 1999 when the Orange dropped its first-round matchup to No. 9 Oklahoma State.
In regards to playing against Baylor, SU’s first-round opponent, the Orange enters 2-0 all-time against the Bears. The two sides last met in the 2013 Maui Invitational title game where Syracuse prevailed behind 24 points from C.J. Fair, and 19 from Jerami Grant off the bench. Before that, the last time Syracuse met Baylor was back in 2006 – a 23-point victory, thanks in large part to 28 points from Demetris Nichols.
It’s no secret that Syracuse will be impacted by the recent news of Frank Howard being ruled out for an “indefinite period of time” for violating SU athletic department policy. However, it will not be the first time this season that the Orange plays without its starting point guard. Howard missed the team’s first four games of the year, and although Syracuse did not play its best basketball in that span, they should at least head into the dance aware of what needs to be done in the senior’s absence. The Orange was able to dominate Pitt and stay in it against Duke without Tyus Battle in the ACC Tournament, so there is definitely hope that Syracuse can perform with Battle now back and Howard out of the lineup.
BREAKING: #Syracuse senior Frank Howard is OUT for “an indefinite period of time” due to a violation of athletic department policy.
No idea whether the PG play at all in his last NCAA Tournament. Right after a career-high 28 points vs. Duke.
— Orange Fizz (@OrangeFizz) March 20, 2019