It’s going to be a nervous last two hours for Syracuse fans. A couple of surprise conference tournament winners (Georgetown, Oregon State and potentially Cincinnati) have pushed the Orange to the edge of most experts’ brackets. SU isn’t just in the “Last Four In,” it’s legitimately the last team in.
However, history seems to be on Syracuse’s side when it comes to unexpected automatic qualifiers.
Using Joe Lunardi’s projection, those non-power five schools could be Wichita State, Utah State, Drake, or even VCU. The Rams lost in the Atlantic-10 Championship game earlier today to St. Bonaventure. Other projections seem to agree.
Creighton would be a favorable matchup (as far as those go) for the Orange. Most of the Bluejays’ scoring comes from guards (including Marcus Zegarowski, the brother of SU legend Michael Carter-Williams). Creighton’s starting big man is 6-foot-8 Ben Bishop. The ‘Jays have also had a rocky few weeks due to inappropriate comments from head coach Greg McDermott. Patrick Ewing and Georgetown waxed Creighton in the Big East tournament finals, and Syracuse could use that film from a common opponent to develop a gameplan.
Syracuse and Drake would be an interesting First Four matchup. The Bulldogs lost in the Missouri Valley championship game, and have been without two of their three top scorers since mid-February. The Bulldogs are top-50 in the country in both two-and-three-point shooting percentage, and are the 19th-most efficient team in America. The 2-3 zone would certainly be tested.
However, it feels like we’re counting chickens before they hatch. Make sure to root for Houston to win the AAC championship. If the Cougars win, they’ll hopefully secure an SU bid. Let’s go dancing!