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Is Syracuse on the Bubble Yet?

Photo via @CuseMBB on X

Since 2019, when the ACC had three number-one seeds and one of them (Virginia) won the national title, it has not been pretty for the league. Teams at the top have had down years, the middle of the conference has cratered, and no one has stepped up to fill the void. The teams that did get in last season played admirably, and Miami made its first Final Four ever, but besides that, there has not been much positive outside of North Carolina and Duke. That’s the crux of what Brian Bennett wrote in The Athletic on Friday:

“North Carolina and Duke, it should come as no surprise, are in great shape and look like national title contenders,” he said. “Clemson, which at one point was 11-1 and debuted in this space as a No. 3 seed, has gone 1-4 in 2024 with the sole win coming at home over Boston College. The Tigers are still solidly in the field thanks in large part to nonconference wins over Alabama and TCU, but at No. 38 in the NET, their team sheet looks a little flabby around the edges. And that’s … all there is for ACC teams in the top 40 of the NET.”

This does not seem like it is a coincidence either, based on the advanced metrics and analytics, the league is not as strong as other conferences, like the Big-12, who had eight teams in the top 25 this week, and the Big Ten, often considered one of the countries best and deeper conferences.

“This is not just a one-year burp, either, as the ACC has not ranked higher than fifth in KenPom’s conference ratings since 2020,” Bennett wrote. “Last year, it was seventh, behind the Mountain West. Success in March — the league has produced four Final Four teams in the past four tournaments, including Virginia’s 2019 title — has masked a stark decline in regular-season prowess. Jokes were going around last year about a #OneBidACC, but the conference ended up with five teams in March Madness and posted a 7-5 record.”

But, that is not the whole story, as teams such as Wake Forest have improved in conference play, Florida State has turned its season around, Virginia Tech is doing its usual middle-of-the-league thing, and other teams have solid wins.

“The news isn’t all bad. ACC teams notched some good wins in the non-conference, and mild improvement in the bottom of the league reduces the risk of devastating losses the rest of the way. Games against UNC or Duke, meanwhile, provide major statement opportunities. There are still 58 days until Selection Sunday, and this current three-bid status will almost certainly improve. But if you see an ACC fan, don’t be surprised if they’re a little sick to their stomach right now.”

So, all that is to get to the Orange, who have not appeared in any brackets yet this season, and have been mentioned as potential next teams up, but never in the first four out or next four categories, and that is mostly due to not having any high-quality wins. Today, Syracuse sits 76th in the NET with a 2-5 record in Q1 and Q2 (both wins are Q2 right now) and a 9-0 record in Q3 and Q4. Yes, no bad losses, but the substance has to come at some point, and that’s why they are on the lower end of the totem pole according to Bennett.

“Syracuse? All but two of the Orange’s wins came in Quads 3 and 4, and they lost by a combined 56 points to Duke and North Carolina. Empty calories here.”

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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