*Records and predictions updated to reflect most recent games*
Syracuse could make it to the NCAA Tournament. I know, I know, that sounds ridiculous and it probably is, but I’m not the only one who thinks it could happen.
Just hear me out. SU is number 67 in the NET rankings right now and 68 teams make the tournament. Obviously that isn’t the end-all, be-all. Plenty of teams outside of the top-68 in the NET make the big dance each year, but at least Syracuse is within striking range. The Orange will continue to move up the rankings if they continue to win.
What is holding Syracuse back from being in tournament contention? Quadrant 1 wins. The Orange are just 2-6 in Quad 1 games this season. The two wins came at Virginia and at Notre Dame. Where on Syracuse’s upcoming schedule are more Quad 1 games? In the ACC Tournament.
Playing the “what if” game and making assumptions can be dangerous and usually doesn’t work out well, but let’s play it anyways. Here are the if’s, assumptions, and puzzle pieces that need to fall just right in order for Syracuse to get those wins in the ACC Tournament and then make it to the big dance.
Let’s first assume that Syracuse beats Miami on Saturday. Sure, the Orange have lost to worse teams than the Hurricanes this year, cough cough North Carolina. But Miami is really bad and doesn’t have a star like Cole Anthony or a big man like Garrison Brooks. So, assuming that Syracuse beats Miami, that will give the Orange an 11-9 ACC record.
Now let’s look at the other ACC teams around Syracuse.
Notre Dame is 10-9 in conference and has and Virginia Tech still on its schedule. Let’s assume that the Fighting Irish beat the Hokies. That would give them a 10-10 ACC record, putting them below Syracuse.
Clemson is currently 9-10 in the ACC after losing to Virginia Tech on Wednesday. The Tigers still have Georgia Tech left on the docket. A winnable game, so let’s give them Tigers the nod, improving their conference record to 10-10, below Syracuse.
NC State is 9-10 in the ACC with a date with Wake Forest soon. Even when we give the Wolfpack that win, they are still below Syracuse at 10-10. Georgia Tech is in that same boat. Assuming GT will beat Pitt and lose to Clemson, its 10-10 conference record is also worse than Syracuse.
So basically, all Syracuse has to do is win against Miami and it will take the five seed. With all of that squared away and predicting a few other games, these are our projected ACC Tournament seeding:
- Florida State
- Notre Dame
- NC State
- Boston College
- Virginia Tech
- Wake Forest
- North Carolina
*Georgia Tech not participating due to a postseason ban*
If all of this is true, Syracuse would get a first round bye and face the winner of Miami and Wake Forest. Now keep in mind, we are doing all of this in order to prove Syracuse could build its resume up enough to make it to the NCAA Tournament. Beating Miami or Wake Forest isn’t going to be enough to make the big dance. Although, that game will be important to build some confidence.
Assuming the Orange win the second round, they would go on to play Virginia. Here is where it gets interesting. This is the game that Syracuse needs to win in order to make it to the NCAA Tournament. This is SU’s chance to get a Quad 1 win.
If somehow the Orange upset a red-hot Cavaliers team, momentum has to be on their side going into a game most likely against Florida State– a team they played closed with this season. Now here’s the thing about this game– a win would be great, but a close game could suffice.
If Syracuse can hang close with Florida State and beat Virginia, that could be enough for the selection committee to give them a spot in the “final four in” category. It always seems like the committee is willing to give Syracuse some leeway, whether it’s because Boeheim or just the history of the program.
This scenario has a lot of assumptions and a lot of “what ifs,” but crazier things have happened. It’s Syracuse basketball, you never know what is going to happen.