Oh boy, here we go again. It’s not even February yet, but the bracket minds are already punching away and lining up this March’s field of 68. And just like the past couple of years, Syracuse is right in the thick of the controversy.
With a 15-6 record, including a 4-4 mark in ACC play, SU finds itself in a tricky situation with a very backloaded schedule. The overall win-loss record mirrors that of some top 25 teams and is better than some teams that received votes in the latest AP Poll. However, the quality of wins are not nearly at the same caliber of those teams. But that does not mean there is not a chance for SU to make up that ground.
Looking at the remainder of the Orange’s schedule, SU has five more road games (including this week against Georgia Tech) and could face anywhere between four to seven ranked teams. Syracuse needs to win at least two of those ranked games to severely help the resume. Right now, its has an 0-3 record against the top 25 and is 2-3 on the road.
That being said, bracketologists seem pretty pro-Syracuse. According to bracketmatrix.com’s latest postings, the Orange appears in 79 of the 94 bracket releases on various media outlets. Syracuse is 1-3 against team’s in Bracket Matrix’s field of 68 and 2-1 against the first eight teams out of the bracket. SU also sits as high as an eight seed, as low as 13th and of course, on the outside looking in on 15 brackets. However, SU’s average seed is a 10.7, meaning that they slot into Bracket Matrix’s third 11 seed. That would put the Orange into a First Four matchup.
Here’s where notable outlets slot Syracuse for the big dance:
The Orange isn’t just not in Jerry Palm’s field of 68, it’s not even in his first four out. However, Palm does have Virginia Tech in the field, who SU smacked on New Year’s Eve this season. His last four in includes the Hokies, along with Kansas State, NC State and Western Kentucky, all of which have RPIs of 44 or worse. What’s Syracuse’s RPI might you ask? 30.
This here is the kiss of death. If Joey Brackets has SU in the tournament, SU Athletics might as well start the NIT ticket pre-sale, right? All jokes aside, Lunardi has the Orange as the very last team in. Syracuse is lined up to play a First Four game against SMU, and a win would set up the marquee Kaleb Joseph revenge game against sixth seeded Creighton. It is also worth noting that Lunardi has the Orange in over Virginia Tech and just one spot below NC State. It is looking like the February 4th matchup against the Wolfpack could be a big determinant in SU’s bracket hopes.
Howie Schwab puts the Orange at the top of his Last Four In. SU would be set up for an opening round matchup against Boise State with another impending follow up against Creighton. Schwab has the Orange in, while leaving out Marquette, who appears on all of the other four brackets that I’m analyzing. The Golden Eagles have hung tough with top-ranked Villanova twice this season and really only have one detrimental loss all year. Five of their eight losses this year have come against teams that are currently ranked inside the top six in the country.
Sports Illustrated: Out
Michael Beller has the Orange in the same spot it was last season: the first team out of the tourney. Again, we’re looking at a bracket that features Virginia Tech ahead of SU. Now, the Hokies do have an impressive win over UNC, but in a case that could look very close, you would think the committee would value a head-to-head blowout win over the Hokies as a tiebreaker. But likewise, Beller has Notre Dame one spot behind Syracuse in this week’s edition, despite the Irish having an undermanned road victory over the Orange.
Brad Evans is our tiebreaker in this one. Like Beller, he has Syracuse as the first team on the outside looking in. Evans also has Notre Dame at the top of his 11 seeds, which is starting to look more and more like the loss that could doom the Orange on Selection Sunday. But he also does not even have Virginia Tech listed amongst his bubble teams.
Of course there are still plenty of questions that need answering. Can Syracuse prove its worth against ranked teams? Will the Orange get its first ever win the ACC tournament? Is Michigan State going to be eligible for the tournament? Again, the tournament is still a month and a half away with so much up for grabs. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun speculating.