Syracuse was knocked out of the New York City region, but was able to hold onto a 3-seed as the NCAA Selection Committee slotted its tournament. After the rough final three weeks of the season and a one-and-done exit from Greensboro, it looked like the Orange could’ve been dropped all the way down to a 4-seed. But the 27 wins were enough to give Syracuse a 3/14 matchup against Western Michigan.
While the committee did Syracuse a favor in some ways by still giving the Orange a 3-seed, the region is brutal surrounding it. SU is in a grouping with the top overall seed in Florida, a scarily talented Kansas team at the 2-seed (if SU sees the Jayhawks star center Joel Embiid would likely be back), and a solid 4-seed in UCLA. Should the Orange get past Western Michigan, the winner of Ohio State and Dayton will be waiting. The Buckeyes might no longer have Jared Sullinger like in ’12, but Thad Matta’s squad knocked out the Orange in the Elite 8 two years ago. OSU will not be an easy task.
But nothing in March has been easy for the Orange. Syracuse has looked terrible for most of the month, and now we see if the tourney allows a fresh start and some mojo. Or an early exit from a flawed and wounded squad.
The committee was fair to the Orange. While three of the four 2-seeds had more losses than the Orange, it’s impossible to not look at the way Syracuse ended its season. Three of its five losses came to unranked teams. BC and Georgia Tech were bad teams that didn’t make the tourney. NC State’s win over the Orange basically thrust the Wolfpack into the dance. And while SU wasn’t put in the East and could go through MSG, SU will be playing two hours down I-90 in Buffalo among a huge contingent of Orange.
All in all, an understandable (and in some ways generous) situation for Syracuse after a dreadful final three weeks. Now can the Orange take advantage of it?