In 2017, Syracuse beat three ranked teams from January 28th to February 22nd. This was before the dreaded NET system was put into place. But if I were to guess, the Orange picked up three quadrant one wins on their home floor down the stretch: FSU, Duke and Virginia. That Tyler Lydon, Andrew White and John Gillon-led team was clearly dangerous, which is what SU fans screamed on the top of their lungs up until selection Sunday, when the committee decided otherwise, and left Syracuse out of the field.
The resume killers: 2-8 on the road, a horrific home loss to St. Johns and 15 total losses. That’s the last time the Orange missed the NCAA tournament (although last season was looking grim before Covid struck).
What can we learn from that 2016-17 Syracuse resume? For one it is a way to check your bias; because if you were advocating for Syracuse in ’17 based on its quality wins, you’d have to change your criteria to advocate for it here in 2021.
The Orange are 1-6 in quadrant one. And the one win is barely something to brag about: a road victory over NC State. Almost every time SU has matched up against top competition on the road, it hasn’t only lost, but lost convincingly. See, @Virginia, @Duke, @Clemson. Thus far, Syracuse is a team that doesn’t scare the best teams in the league. Plain and simple.
Maybe that began to change last week, in SU’s final two regular season games. UNC is a team that has gotten better throughout the season with the maturing of its young guards, and features a terrifying frontcourt. Clemson has been as high as 12th in the AP poll, and has won six of its last seven, the loss being to Syracuse. The 2-0 week was encouraging, and positions Syracuse for a chance at an at-large bid.
Now it’s time to do clog the final hole in SU’s resume. It’s time to do what the 2016 team couldn’t. Remedy an ugly road record by winning on the neutral court of the ACC tournament.
On Wednesday at noon, SU will play NC State in the second round of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. With a win, Syracuse would improve to 3-7 road/neutral. Looks a lot better than 2-8.
Without the win, the Orange will present a resume that severely lacks both quality wins and success away from home. The NCAA Tournament is not held in the Dome, and low-quality teams don’t get to participate. How could anyone argue Syracuse deserves to be in without a win on Wednesday?