A quick take on Syracuse being selected as the last team in for the 2018 NCAA Tournament:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse will be dancing in March. The NCAA Selection Committee took the 11th-seeded Orange as its last team in, and they will play in the midwest region play-in game against Dayton on Wednesday against Arizona State. The other two teams who will join them are St. Bonaventure and UCLA. The last four out were Baylor, Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and USC.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse’s chances looked bleak after Rhode Island lost to Davidson in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, with Davidson gobbling up an automatic bid. But the selection committee this year placed a premium on record away from home, record versus other tournament teams and strength of schedule. The Orange placed well in those categories, finishing with a non-conference and overall strength of schedule at No. 13, and when added to road wins against Miami and Louisville, plus four quadrant 1 wins, that was enough to vault them into the field of 68.
HERO: Head coach Jim Boeheim deserves credit for guiding a short-handed team with offensive deficiencies to the Tournament. The Orange lost Taurean Thompson to a transfer, Howard Washington to an ACL injury, Geno Thorpe for personal reasons, and Tyler Lydon to the NBA. Despite all of that, and the cloud of NCAA sanctions still hanging over the program, the Orange is still headed to the Big Dance.
ZERO: ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lundari has really struggled with placing Syracuse over the past four seasons. He’s been wrong each year, and earlier in the day tweeted that Syracuse was “just not that good” this year, and used this eye test as a justification for leaving the Orange out. His final projection had SU as the next four out.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse and Arizona State will play on Wednesday evening at 9:10 p.m. in Dayton, Ohio. The winner will face sixth-seeded TCU on Friday in Detroit, Mich.