Syracuse Bubble Watch: Thursday results gives Orange new hope

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Syracuse is aided by Thursday results

Today’s gonna be a busy day in hexing other teams, so let’s quickly recap yesterday’s results and see how we feel about Syracuse’s chances about a happy ending on Sunday.

In the A-10, George Washington beat St. Louis. Boo.

In the Big East, Providence handled Butler by 14 points. We thank you, Friars, and I will debate taking down my old tweet about how it took the Big East getting nuked into three conferences for you to win a conference title. Nah, keeping it up.

In the Big Ten, Michigan and Ohio State both squeaked out wins, with the former needing overtime to take out Northwestern. Bummer. At least the Orange had a little wiggle room over both of them.

San Diego State won their Mountain West opener, so full marks for them. Just keep it up, Aztecs.

Things got even better for the Orange with the conferences in the back end of the alphabet, though.

In the Pac-12, Colorado trailed by 17 at half to Arizona, put up a great rally, but still fell. Utah held off a strong second-half rally from USC to defeat the Trojans and California posted a 10-1 run late in the second half to knock off Oregon State. In sum, the three Pac-12 teams that could fall below the Orange all lost, as needed, although Colorado is likely too far ahead to do that. In any case, shoutouts to Arizona, Utah, and Cal for the assistance.

Finally, in the SEC, Florida held off Arkansas to win, which doesn’t do a whole lot for Syracuse. I buried the lead, though.

Vanderbilt trailed Tennessee by as many as 15 points in the first half, rallied to grab the lead a couple times in the final five minutes, but did not have enough in the tank to hang on, losing to a Volunteers team that is now 15-18 on the year. Vandy entered the day with an RPI of 51 with a 2-7 mark against the top-50 in the RPI. Lunardi had them as a 9-seed early in the day, but dropped them to an 11-seed play-in game late Thursday night. The Commodores are clearly in jeopardy in the seeding committee’s eyes.

As of Friday morning, sticking with our previous format, the focus is on the updated 8-12 seeds and teams listed as the eight closest, but not in, the tournament in Joe Lunardi’s current field at ESPN.com. Here is an update listed as yesterday, but there are some changes from earlier Thursday and blah blah blah.

No, really, Colorado lost in a game that ended before 8:00pm Eastern and got moved up a seed line. If you want to believe Syracuse is in even though Lunardi has them out, that move that defies all logic is a reason to support your argument.

» Related: Syracuse Bubble Watch: Despite loss, Orange still alive

Anyway, here they are:

  • 8 seeds – Colorado, South Carolina, Wichita State, Texas Tech
  • 9 seeds – Cincinnati, VCU, Saint Joseph’s, USC
  • 10 seeds –Oregon State, Pittsburgh/Saint Mary’s, St Bonaventure, Butler
  • 11 seeds – Temple (projected automatic bid), Vanderbilt/Monmouth, San Diego
  • State (projected automatic bid), Gonzaga (automatic bid)
  • 12 seeds –South Dakota State (automatic bid), Arkansas-Little Rock (projected automatic bid), Akron (projected automatic bid), Yale (automatic bid)
  • first four out – Syracuse, Connecticut, Tulsa, Valparaiso,
  • next four out – Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, George Washington

For games not listed on Friday’s schedule, the general rule of thumb is you want the favorite to win. No surprises = no team steals an automatic bid from a team that could get an at-large, also known as “Syracuse”.

The schedule:

American: South Florida vs. Temple (12:00pm Eastern, ESPN2), Connecticut vs. Cincinnati (approx. 2:30pm Eastern, ESPN2), Tulsa vs. Memphis (approx. 9:30pm Eastern, ESPNU: Lunardi has Temple as the projected conference winner, but close to the cut line, so USF pulling a big upset (they’re 8-24 on the year), would be a huge favor to SU. With Tulsa near the Orange, a Memphis win would be quite helpful, as well.

The big one, though, is the game between Cincinnati and Connecticut. A Cincinnati loss could put them on the precipice of dropping out. A Connecticut win likely has them hop over Syracuse in the pecking order, or at least gives them a chance to win another game and do it on Saturday. Even though a Connecticut win might help SU’s resume, especially if they go on to win the conference tourney, the Bearcats eliminating them as a threat is probably better. After all, two upsets (UConn and Temple) and Cincy marching to a conference title might make the American a one-bid conference, freeing up a spot for the Orange. You think you can muster up the will to boo the Huskies? I thought so.

Atlantic 10: George Washington vs. St Joseph’s (2:30pm Eastern, NBC Sports Network), Massachusetts vs. VCU (6:30pm Eastern, NBC Sports Network), St Bonaventure vs. Davidson (9:00pm Eastern, NBC Sports Network): In spite of not supporting them yesterday, we now throw our weight behind GW. Should they beat St Joe’s, they may knock the Eagles out of the tournament field. A VCU loss to UMass might jeopardize their chances at an at-large, so root for Massachusetts, too. St Bonaventure is the big one, though. The Orange beat the Bonnies this season and if they are in a play-in game, a loss might knock them out, opening a spot (at least temporarily) for Syracuse.

Big Ten: Michigan vs. Indiana (12:00pm Eastern, ESPN), Ohio State vs. Michigan State (6:30pm Eastern, Big Ten): The big boys from Indiana and Michigan State enter the tournament action, so root for them to end the dreams of their Big Ten brethren.

Mountain West: San Diego State vs. Nevada (9:00pm Eastern, CBS Sports Network): Again, go Aztecs. Make the Mountain West a one-bid conference.

SEC: Florida vs. Texas A&M (1:00pm Eastern, SEC Network), South Carolina vs. Georgia (approx. 9:30pm Eastern, SEC Network): Florida needs to go, post-haste. Texas A&M, please add on another win and make SU’s win over you just a little bit better. South Carolina is likely safely in the field, so a Georgia win would be nice. Tennessee is also playing LSU (3:30pm Eastern, SEC Network) and, while the Bayou Bengals aren’t even on the map, let’s hope the Volunteers win again, just to ensure the committee has no reason to give the likely top NBA draft pick, Ben Simmons, a chance to show his stuff in the NCAA’s.

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Jim Stechschulte

About Jim Stechschulte

A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.
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