Cleveland – I’m starting to think that maybe expanding the NCAA Tournament wasn’t a good idea after all.
The format worked great with 65 teams. It was always fun to see which coaches would be pleading their case after being left out on Selection Sunday night, and usually, but not always, all one had to do was check that team’s early-season schedule strength to see why.
There was the play-in game Tuesday in Dayton to kick off the madness, then settle into the first and second rounds either on a Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Sunday format and shoot for the Sweet 16.
Now we’ve got the trademarked “First Four” which is the new first round, the old first round is the new second round, and the round of 32 is now the third round. Got that?
The new TV contract means there are no more boundaries on when games can be played, and that caused perhaps the biggest gripe of all from both fans and the media along balmy Lake Erie: What in the heck was the NCAA thinking of when it started the “second round” Cleveland games at 2:37pm instead of 12:07pm, resulting in a clogged schedule that backed up SU and Indiana State to a 10:37pm tip off, still playing basketball into early Sat. morning and driving fans out of the building in droves well before the final buzzer?
It simply made no sense except to the TV folks who put the money down on the NCAA’s table and are only thinking of the eyeballs they covet to recoup the return on investment, not the convenience and comfort of those attending in person.
Logistics aside, Marquette played athletic, fast, and strong Fri. in its 11-point win over Xavier. If the Orange look to advance and seek to win their first Sweet 16 game since 2003’s championship season, they’re going to have to play like they did in the second half of the Jan. 29 loss in Milwaukee to their Big East brother, when the ‘Cuse shot a sizzling 68% and played active defense in outscoring the Golden Eagles by five.
Only problem was the Orange struggled mightily in the first half and couldn’t overcome that deficit losing 76-70, a fourth straight loss that sent Orange Nation into a tizzy.
Now, is it time for revenge?
“We know how they play, they know how we play,” C.J. Fair said after his “quiet” 14-point, 7-rebound performance against Indiana State. “Whoever wants it more (will win). If we play our game and our (best) defense, I think we’ll be fine.”
So, after beating Providence in the 1987 national semi-finals for a third time that season, its only other NCAA Tournament “conference game,” SU will take a season split with Marquette to continue its mantra of “Unfinished Business.”
- Instant Juice: Syracuse 77, Cornell 45 - November 10, 2017
- Orange Watch: Revamped roster for Syracuse basketball will need time to bloom - November 7, 2017
- Orange Watch: Seeking a ‘November to Remember’ for Syracuse Football - October 31, 2017
- Instant Juice: Syracuse picked 10th in the ACC - October 26, 2017
- Orange Watch: Yearning for ACC football division reconfiguration - October 24, 2017
- Instant Juice: Syracuse 19, Miami 27 - October 21, 2017
- What Are Syracuse’s Chances Of Making a Bowl Game? - October 18, 2017
- Orange Watch: Syracuse football has chance for encore against Top 10 team - October 17, 2017
- Orange Watch: Beating Clemson would accelerate timetable for rebirth of Syracuse football - October 10, 2017
- Instant Juice: Syracuse 27, Pittsburgh 24 - October 7, 2017