For the first time since 2008, Syracuse will not be participating in the NCAA Tournament. Prepare to have salt rubbed in your wound for the next three weeks. But all is not lost. For those of us who always look on the bright side of life, here’s the good news:
10. The sanctions may have dropped right before March Madness, but at least none of Syracuse’s players were suspended on the eve of the tournament, torpedoing their chances at a National Title.
9. More time to recruit. Given the scholarship reductions and other recruiting limitations, Syracuse will need all the time it can get out on the trail.
8. It is an undeniable shame that Rakeem Christmas lost the chance to showcase his All-American-level talent to the Tournament’s national audience. But the extra time off will allow him to rest up after a bruising ACC schedule, hit the gym, fix holes in his game, and come to the NBA Pre-Draft camps in the best shape of his life.
7. It was unlikely that Syracuse would have made the tournament as an at-large team after losing their final three games. Their only shot was an unlikely run in the NCAA tournament. That would have been exciting, but Syracuse doesn’t exactly have the best track record following unlikely runs in the conference tournament to make March Madness. By banning themselves, they managed to avoid a Texas A&M-esque letdown.
6. Perhaps if Syracuse had known they had a shot at the Tournament, they would have played better down the stretch and received an at-large bid. In that case, at least they didn’t have to play a Vermont.
5. Fuel for the fire. The last time Syracuse missed the NCAA tournament, the following year the Orange won 28 games and made the Sweet Sixteen. The returning Syracuse players – whoever they end up being – will be out for revenge next season after missing out on this year’s post season.
4. Your bracket. Let’s face it: if you’re anything like me, you’re a bit of a homer when you fill out your March Madness bracket. Yes, I thought there was a chance Gerry McNamara could carry SU past Duke in 2006 to the Final Four. Even if you pride yourself on your statistical approach that puts Nate Silver to shame, you probably didn’t have Syracuse losing to Dayton last year. This year, you can analyze the bracket objectively and lose your pool for other reasons instead.
3. Missing the Tournament means this year’s team can spend extra time practicing shooting. That goes for everyone. SU’s team 3-point shooting percentage (30.1 percent) was the worst in a long time. I made it back to ’95-96 in the record books and got tired of looking.
2. You won’t have to listen to commentators who spend the entire season asking why Syracuse doesn’t switch to man-to-man defense rave about how stifling Boeheim’s 2-3 zone is.
1. Georgetown will lose to Eastern Washington.