Orange Watch: Syracuse basketball looking to jump start its season in NCAA Tournament

Gbinije was taken in the second round of the NBA Draft
Given a season reprieve with an NCAA bid, Michael Gbinije and the Orange look to begin with some payback against Dayton.

Item: If you read Orange Watch weekly, then this week’s article title should look familiar. We simply removed the abbreviation “ACC” before the word “Tournament” from last week’s column and inserted “NCAA” as its replacement. Whether or not that proclamation holds true beginning Friday versus No. 7 seed Dayton (25-7) in a Midwest Regional first round game at the 22,000 seat Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis (12:15 p.m. ET / TV: CBS / Digital: March Madness Live) remains to be seen, after all SU’s comeback fell short against Pitt last week. A strong early season showing combined with middle-of-the-road conference play got the No. 10 seeded Orange the crucial invitation to go “Dancing,” which subsequently created much consternation among the majority of those who laboriously study the brackets for weeks on end. Now this year’s 19-13 ‘Cuse squad looks to send Jim Boeheim out with a bang to conclude his unusual 40th season, and let its play on the court do all the talking as to whether or not Syracuse deserved a tournament berth.

Why should we be surprised that it in this day and age of practically a daily technology achievement, along with less and less privacy in our professional and personal lives because of much of that technology, that it finally happened?

Someone figured out a way to let all of us college basketball and NCAA Tournament zealots peer into the world of the broadcast partner’s inside information direct from the selection committee by posting a leaked bracket on Twitter.

There it was for all to see and share Sunday evening during the initial stage of the telecast unveiling, which not only went viral within minutes but simultaneously saved all of us from the agony of watching in detail CBS’s ill fated programming decision.

» Related: Dayton Flyers — 2016 Syracuse NCAA Tournament scouting report

By doubling the length of the “Selection Sunday” show, which wasn’t broken and didn’t seed fixing, except, that is, to jam more of the NCAA’s “Corporate Champions” sponsors ads and idiotic banter into the yawning mix, the resulting social media upheaval blew right back into CBS’s (and the NCAA’s) face.

After watching the televised selection show since its inception on CBS in 1982, It was pretty cool to turn to the person next to us and “predict” exactly when Syracuse was about to be shown as the 10 seed in the Midwest region playing Dayton, instead of waiting impatiently on many occasions in years past.

When all was said and done, four of the five power conferences put 28 of the 68 teams (41% of the field) into the tournament, including both participants in the ACC’s 8 vs. 9 game, SU and Pittsburgh as No. 10 seeds in different regions who both, ironically, open first/second round play Friday in St. Louis.

Following the third loss of the season to the Panthers last week, which also continued this year’s season-ending losing streak to losses in five of the last six games, and comes on the heels of SU dropping four of its final six in 2014, and four of the last five in 2015’s aborted campaign, once Jim Boeheim learned his team’s post season fate, everything turned rosy (or should we say ‘orange’) again.

“I think we’re playing fine,” Boeheim said in assessing the state of his team, despite the losing streak, after receiving the instantaneously energizing news of the at-large bid to what will be his 32nd NCAA appearance over five decades of coaching.

“We’ve had a couple of really good days of practice (since the Pitt loss), as good a practice as we’ve had all year. I think we’re ready to go in the tournament and play…play well.”

That will start Friday by interestingly facing the Orange’s last NCAA foe, with no added incentive needed to get some tourney revenge against 2014 conqueror Dayton.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.