Item: At 9-4 with the hindrance of a statistical bad loss to a sub.500 Colgate team to open the season, all the way 13 games later to the dismay of watching a three goal lead slip away in the final four minutes plus of regulation against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament, it was no surprise, even with the wrinkle of upsets in some of the other conference tournaments this past week, that Syracuse was placed on the road to open the NCAA Tournament at No. 8 seed Loyola Saturday afternoon in Baltimore (12:00 p.m. ET / ESPNU).
In this Division I sport so often defined by one goal margins, many in overtime, seemingly more often than not a game coming down to the bounce of the ball or a beautiful shot on goal just missing by hitting a post or crossbar, the room for error is minuscule
When the 2019 tournament bracket was revealed Sunday night, the Syracuse players and staff knew they had one loss too many to secure a home game, what with three other ACC teams making up half of the eight at-large slots, and Saturday’s foe Loyola still maintaining its status as an at-large lock based on is total season profile, even after dropping its conference semifinal game to ‘Cuse regular season victim Army.
Before the entire conference tournament slate unfolded last week, we did correctly predict the road opponent and date for the Orange, although we were off by one spot on the seed line.
Like its basketball mates in the “8/9” game against Baylor in March, the lax team is ostensibly the No. 9 seed facing No. 8, even though the selection committee does not officially seed teams 9—17.
It’s the first time Syracuse has opened up the NCAA Tournament away from the Dome since a 2012 loss at Duke, and it will mark the third all-time NCAA meeting against the Greyhounds, with SU winning all three games.
On the eve of the 1990 NCAA championship game at Rutgers, we’ll never forget then-Loyola coach Dave Cottle practically begging undefeated and No. 1 seed Syracuse to ease up on his Greyhounds an upset winner over Yale in the semifinals. That was not going to happen in Gary and Paul Gait’s final game as Orangemen, a 21-9 romp, culminating a 42-1 record over their final three seasons.
In both 1997 and 1999, Syracuse beat Loyola to extend its impressive NCAA semifinal weekend streak to 15 and 17 years, respectively. The Orange held off LU 13-12 in the ’97 game at Hofstra, and put the 17-12 win away in 1999 at Princeton with a big fourth quarter.
This time around it’s a true Syracuse road game Saturday in front of what’s always a great home crowd at the Ridley Athletic Complex, coming off a 17 day break. A tough game to forecast, but it’s easy to predict there’s little margin for error.