About a year ago today, the Orange was huddled at the Melo Center feeling anxious about whether Greg Gumbel would call its name into the field of 68.
However, after countless hours of nail biting and a leaked bracket, Syracuse booked its flight to St. Louis for the start of one of the most improbable runs in tournament history.
Now, SU is feeling the same angst it did 52 Sundays ago: squarely on the bubble, with more experts leaving Syracuse out of the field than in. According to bracketmatrix.com, a composite ranking of 117 of the top bracketologists, the Orange is the very first team out of the field. That being said, let’s take a look at the best and worst case scenarios for Syracuse.
Reasons for optimism:
We’ve heard the talk about how weak this year’s bubble is. Amongst teams considered to be on the fringe, SU has the most wins against the AP Top 10 (3) and the third most wins (5) against the RPI top 50. If it truly comes down to who you have beat rather than who you have lost to, it would be tough for the committee to keep the Orange out of the field. If Syracuse were to get into the field, its RPI (84) would be the worst to ever crack into the big dance. However, it would be breaking its own record from last season. Playing in the ACC also favors the Orange in the strength of schedule department over the mid-majors. We’ll see how much the Syracuse and ACC brand weighs on the committee this afternoon.
Reasons for pessimism:
There are plenty. UConn. Georgetown. St. Johns. Boston College. Just to name a few. The five non-conference losses are the worst for the Orange in the Jim Boeheim era, which certainly won’t do SU any favors. Then there’s a committee favorite: the 2-11 road/neutral site record. That is the major difference between this year’s team and last year’s. Syracuse picked up six wins away from the Dome last season, including a big road victory against Duke and neutral site success in the Bahamas against UConn and Texas A&M. Along with this, the Orange owns 14 losses, which would tie it for the most for a tournament team.
Syracuse could very well be the absolute first team out, but if the Orange gets in, last year taught us that it can still be dangerous in March.
The Selection Show is today at 5:30 ET on CBS.