Friday was a mixed bag for the Syracuse Orange and their NCAA Tournament chances. Let’s dive in.
The teams of consequence to SU opened play in the American Conference. After Temple cruised past USF, things got interesting… and not good for SU. After Cincinnati broke a tie with a three-pointer with 0.8 seconds left in triple overtime, UConn got a banked-in 60-foot heave to force five more minutes of play. The Huskies rode the momentum to the win on the fourth overtime session.
Things got better late, though, as Memphis blasted Tulsa by 22 points. While ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Syracuse a couple spots ahead of Tulsa, he’s not the actual tournament selection committee and every little bit helps.
In the A-10, SU got another happy ending. While Saint Joseph’s and VCU won earlier in the day, St Bonaventure got clipped in overtime by Davidson, 90-86. The Bonnies are near the cut line and the Orange beat them by 13 points early this season. Perhaps that puts the Orange in front of them for the tournament committee.
In the Big Ten, Michigan got a buzzer-beating three-pointer to upset Indiana. That one hurt. Ohio State did their part to help the Orange, getting manhandled by Michigan State.
San Diego State remained on schedule by advancing to the Mountain West title game.
Finally, in the SEC, both Florida and South Carolina lost, which may help the Orange, especially since the former added another win for Texas A&M. You may remember that in happier times, SU defeated the Aggies in the Bahamas.
I’m not going to bother analyzing Lunardi’s moves any more. St Bonaventure somehow lost and jumped over two other teams that also lost, moving from a play-in game to a higher seed line.
Listed as updated March 12, here’s Lunardi’s opinion:
- 8 seeds –Wichita State, Texas Tech, Providence, Butler
- 9 seeds –VCU, Saint Joseph’s, Oregon State, USC
- 10 seeds – Cincinnati, South Carolina, St Bonaventure, Temple (projected automatic bid)
- 11 seeds –Vanderbilt/Pittsburgh, Connecticut/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 – Saint Mary’s, Syracuse, Michigan, Valparaiso,
- next four out – Tulsa, LSU, Ohio State, Georgia
For games not listed, you want the favorite to win.
The schedule for Saturday:
American: Connecticut vs Temple (3:00pm Eastern, ESPN2): Connecticut hopped the Orange in Lunardi’s bracket yesterday. Hopefully, we find out if they can fall right back below them today.
Atlantic 10: Saint Joseph’s vs Dayton (1:30pm Eastern, CBS Sports Network), Davidson vs VCU (4:00pm Eastern, CBS Sports Network): While they are both likely in the field already, it cannot hurt to root against Saint Joseph’s and VCU. If you could pick only one to lose, it should be Saint Joseph’s, as the Orange can’t have Davidson take home the A-10 title in an upset and steal an at-large spot.
Big Ten: Michigan vs. Purdue (1:00pm Eastern, CBS): The Orange may not be able to withstand the Wolverines getting another top-15 win, so Purdue is the choice.
Mountain West: San Diego State vs. Fresno State (6:00pm Eastern, CBS): Should the Aztecs win, the Mountain West likely stays as a one-bid conference. Finish the dream, SDSU.
SEC: LSU vs Texas A&M (1:00pm, ESPN): LSU appeared on Lunardi’s “next four out” after yesterday, so another win on the Aggies’ resume would be a little more meaningful for SU.