In the latest edition of a multi-part series, editorial staff of The Juice Online discuss various topics on Syracuse athletics. Today’s topic: Syracuse is headed to the NIT after being left out of the NCAA Tournament. What are your reactions to the news?
Wes Cheng: Syracuse made it to the 2016 NCAA Tournament largely on quality wins. There were wins against UCONN and Texas A&M in the non-conference schedule and then a big win against Duke on the road in the ACC portion.
My problem with the NCAA Selection Committee mostly runs with consistency, because SU’s quality wins were the most highly cited reasons why it was selected last year, yet it was largely ignored this year.
Syracuse has more top 50 wins (6) than any other bubble team, including Wake Forest. Speaking of the Deacons, SU won their only head-to-head matchup this season, and the Orange finished eighth in the ACC as opposed to Wake Forest, which finished 10th.
The NCAA presumably wants teams that can win in the tourney, and Syracuse has proven it can do that, with wins over then-top 10 teams Duke, Virginia and FSU.
If I had to point to one loss that undid the Orange, it was the ACC opener against Boston College. Assume for a moment that SU wins that game, and I believe it changes the complexion of their season.
For starters, SU finishes 11-7 in conference and removes a sub-200 RPI loss. It also finishes tied for fifth with Virginia and Duke in the ACC, and by means of head-to-head wins, Syracuse would own the tie breaker. It would’ve been extremely difficult for the committee to turn down the fifth place team in what was widely regarded as the best conference in the NCAA this year.
But alas, Syracuse didn’t do that. It was routed by the Eagles, and now it has a game against UNC Greensboro, suddenly an archrival, in the NIT.
Jim Stechschulte: Jim Boeheim’s mood at the press conference following the announcement of the NCAA tourney field summed up the 2016-2017 Syracuse season. He looked defeated, almost a little wrung out, as if all the air had expelled from a balloon released on the other side of the room.
After all, there were a lot of high expectations for the Orange coming into the season. Boeheim spoke very highly of the talent on the roster back in November and the team was ranked #19 in the first AP poll and #17 in the inaugural coaches poll.
The loss to Connecticut at the Garden, the loss to Georgetown at home, and getting torn to shreds by St. John’s. The worst of all was the New Year’s Day slaughter at Boston College (a loss to a team with a 200+ RPI and winning would have boosted SU to 11-7 in the ACC).
The balloon was mostly empty at that point. Yes, it flew around a while longer, up and down in a crazy pattern.
But, finally, it settled on the ground with nowhere to go.
Well, at least not until Tuesday when Syracuse hosts UNC Greensboro in the first round of the NIT.