Can Syracuse still make the NCAA Tournament?

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Syracuse has a razor-thin margin

Earlier in January, ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lundari counted Syracuse completely out of the NCAA Tournament. At the time, Syracuse had just lost another road game to Virginia Tech.

Since then, the Orange has dropped two more road games to North Carolina and most recently, Notre Dame, and with 11 games left to go in the year, the window does truly appear to be closing.

But is there still an outside chance for SU to go dancing in March?

Perhaps, if these things occur:

WIN THREE GAMES AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS

Syracuse has zero quality non-conference wins, so to beef up its resume, it is going to have to do it in ACC play.

There are currently five ranked teams left on the Orange’s schedule: No. 10 FSU (1/28). No. 16 UVa (2/4). No. 12 Louisville (2/13). No. 18 Duke (2/22). And at No. 12 Louisville (2/26).

Three wins from this group would help counteract the four bad losses currently on SU’s resume: UConn, St. John’s, Boston College, Georgetown.

It helps that four of these games are at home, but that leads into the next category…

WIN ON THE ROAD

The loss against the Fighting Irish on Saturday was SU’s eighth straight road loss, and kept the Orange winless on the road this season. The streak is the worst streak the Orange has had since 1962.

Syracuse certainly will have opportunities to win on the road in the last part of its schedule. It still has remaining road games against NC State, Clemson, Pitt, Georgia Tech and previously mentioned Louisville.

The margin for error here is pretty thin, and in order to make the Tournament, you’d think that SU would need at least three, but probably four from this category.

» Related: Syracuse basketball needs more Jekyll, less Hyde

GET TO 20 WINS

Let’s just play a hypothetical scenario here and play out the rest of the Orange’s schedule:

  • Wake Forest: W
  • FSU: W
  • NC State: W
  • Virginia: L
  • Clemson: W
  • Pitt: L
  • Louisville: L
  • Georgia Tech: W
  • Duke: W
  • Louisville: L
  • Georgia Tech: W

Syracuse currently is at 11 wins, so if everything goes according to the above example, the Orange would finish the regular season with 18 wins and 10 in conference. Now, granted, this is being awfully generous to an Orange team that still hasn’t found its way yet.

I’m giving them wins against No. 10 FSU and No. 18 Duke, along with a home-and-home with Georgia Tech and a win on the road against Clemson. But this isn’t the most far-fetched outcome, either.

Now, add two ACC Tourney wins and the Orange is at 20 wins with quality wins over Duke and Florida State. While it isn’t a lock for the tournament, it at least puts the Orange in the conversation like it was last year.

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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