Syracuse basketball’s convincing road win against NC State has a lot of fans thinking the Orange are treading water with Selection Sunday just over a month out. But the truth is, SU needs to do a lot more than just stay alive. They have a lot more to prove.
Bart Torvik from barttorvik.com says only one team in his database with similar resumé ranks and NET ratings has ever made the tournament. That was NC State in 2012. Every other team fell short of the Big Dance. But there are more similarities than just sabermetrics.
The analytics draw close comparisons to 2015 Stanford. The Cardinal were on the bubble, with plenty of chances down the stretch to strengthen their resumé, but lost the final three games of the regular season and five of the last seven. That slide included the regular season finale when then-future 2-seed Arizona dismantled Stanford. Florida’s 2009 squad lost three of their last four games before the SEC Tournament. All three of those losses came against NCAA Tournament teams.
All this is to say that Syracuse is not done. They still have some chances with six games left before the ACC Tournament. Louisville and Georgia Tech on the road would be quad-1 wins, something SU has none of right now. The Orange could also get a boost from the wins that are already under their belt. For example, Syracuse handled No. 18 Virginia Tech in the Dome earlier this season. It will only be considered a Q1 win if the Hokies are 30th or higher in the NET Rankings by the end of the season. Virginia Tech is currently 35th.
Most of the teams with similar resumés to Syracuse also could not make a run in the conference tournament. If history is an indicator, the Orange will need at least two wins in Greensboro.
Every Syracuse fan is looking for a magic number. How many games does Syracuse have to win to make the NCAA Tournament? The truth is, it’s not just about quantity. It’s also quality. While SU can’t take any game for granted, the committee will be keeping a close eye on the tougher tests with the understanding that they are must-wins.