The Orange had multiple chances at the end of the season to solidify its case for the NCAA Tournament. Two chances, against Pitt and Florida State, to get that 20th win and 10th win in the ACC that would make the SU resumé look stronger. Multiple chances to push its conference record over .500 in the ACC, one of the best conferences in the country. But the Orange came up short. Syracuse didn’t need to win both those games, in all likelihood, it just needed one, but it couldn’t get a win.
And now, while the Orange may– or more likely, may not– have a favorable resumé when it is compared to other “bubble” teams, the fact is that this team does not deserve to make the Tournament.
It’s a shame for someone like Michael Gbinije, who if the Orange had picked up 2 or 3 more conference wins would have been viewed as a totally different player in the conference’s landscape. Possibly even making the All-ACC first team. Gbinije did all he could to get this SU team to the NCAA Tournament, but didn’t have enough help around him.
Trevor Cooney faded towards the end of the season, as he has in years past. So did freshman Malachi Richardson, likely playing the most games in a season he has ever played. While Tyler Lydon played relatively strong throughout the whole season, the Orange needed more than just two players to get the job done.
The question for the NCAA Selection Committee is this– Do you reward mediocrity from a major conference, or do you reward success from a mid-major conference? If the NCAA Selection Committee would rather reward mediocrity, there is a better chance that the Orange gets in.
But when you look at this season as a whole, does Syracuse really deserve to be in the Tournament? Had Syracuse pulled out two wins against Florida State and Pitt, the feeling would be a lot different. The Orange wouldn’t have lost 5 of the last 6, it would have been sitting at 11 ACC wins and 21 wins overall. The whole season would feel different. It would be easy to forget about that terrible St. John’s loss if Syracuse had picked up more wins towards the end of the year.
At the end of the day, with the way Syracuse ended the season, and its overall resumé, the Orange simply doesn’t deserve to continue its season in the NCAA Tournament.