Syracuse basketball in need of a miracle to reach NCAA Tournament

Guerrier UNC
Feb. 29, 2020; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Quincy Guerrier drives against North Carolina Tar Heels guard Leaky Black (1) during a 92-79 loss. Mandatory Credit: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online.

Just last month, it seemed as if the Syracuse basketball team had an outside shot at making the NCAA Tournament, but a shot nonetheless. That shot was reliant upon Syracuse completing the following criteria:

  • Winning one of the two road games against ranked teams Florida State and Louisville;
  • Winning five or six of the remaining seven conference games;
  • Winning at least one (maybe two) games in the ACC Tournament.

Well, as the Orange head into this week’s ACC Tournament, they failed to check off either of the first two criteria on the list. Syracuse lost to both Florida State (by three points) and Louisville (by 24 points). Of the seven other games, the Orange won just four.

So, now the question becomes: is there any way Syracuse makes the tournament if they DON’T win their conference tournament?

In repeating last month’s exercise, we once again use ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology predictions and look at his “Last Four In,” “Last Four Out” and “Next Four Out.” As of Sunday:

  • The “Last Four In” teams are: Stanford, Indiana, Texas, NC State
  • The “First Four Out” teams are: Richmond, Xavier, Cincinnati, Wichita State
  • The “Next Four Out” teams are: Mississippi State, Memphis, Purdue, Northern Iowa

As always, the tried-and-true method of dissecting these teams’ seasons (along with Syracuse’s) uses the following ranking systems:

  • ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index (BPI) – the BPI predicts future performance. The 13 teams in our discussion ranked from 19th to 69th, with the Orange being tenth on the list at 51st.
  • Strength of Schedule – Ranging from 4th to 172nd, the list has a large window to fit in. Syracuse ranked sixth among the teams in question, ranking 57th in the country.
  • KenPom – Ken Pomeroy’s analytical power poll ranks every team in the country. This was the rankings list in which the group of 13 teams fared best in, with all of them ranking 23rd and 61st. Syracuse was towards the back of the pack, placing eleventh on the list with a ranking of 55th.

» Related: Syracuse basketball’s regular season ends with nightmare in Miami

  • NET – The NET ranking system, which replaced the RPI as the primary evaluating tool last season, ranks these 13 teams anywhere between 29th (Stanford) and 68th (Texas). Syracuse places 12th on the list of 13 teams, coming in at 64th in the country.
  • RPI – We’ll still keep the RPI in this exercise, even if it may only be a secondary measuring stick now. The RPI saw Richmond rank the highest on the list at 23rd and Syracuse pulled up the rear at 96th.
  • Quadrant 1 Wins – This category is the least helpful in our math. There is not as much separation between the teams, leading to a lot of ties. Of the 13 teams, two (Stanford and Texas) led the way with five Quadrant 1 wins. Northern Iowa was alone at the bottom of the list with just a single Quadrant 1 win. Syracuse was tied for 6th with three.

Once again, we take all the data and run them through the DDD (Dumbed-Down Dagostino) Index. For each rankings system, each team gets a point assigned to them, one through 13. If a team is the best in that category, it receives one point. Thirteen points goes to the worst team in the category. Add up all the points in each category. This is like golf, where the low score wins.

Here are your final standings in the DDD:

  • Purdue – 20
  • Stanford – 32
  • Indiana – 32
  • Richmond – 32
  • Xavier – 33
  • Wichita St. – 36
  • Cincinnati – 41
  • NC State – 42
  • Mississippi St. – 43
  • Texas – 50
  • Northern Iowa – 11
  • Syracuse – 58
  • Memphis – 60

Looking at the data, it doesn’t look good for Syracuse’s chances. Finishing near the bottom of the pack means the Orange will probably have to run the table in Greensboro this week and earn an automatic bid in order to play in the NCAA Tournament.

Lunardi said last week that he will probable discuss Syracuse as a bubble team on Selection Sunday because, out of habit, that’s just what happens this time of year.

But, the only way Syracuse’s name will really be discussed in the Selection Committee’s war room will be if they become ACC Tournament champions on Saturday.

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Matt Dagostino
About Matt Dagostino 82 Articles
Matt currently works as an on-air talent and producer for Turner Sports in Atlanta, where he is from. Among his responsibilities are voicing over highlights for NCAA.com, NBA.com, WNBA.com, and PGA.com. He has also served as an associate producer for TNT’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs and TBS’s coverage of the MLB Postseason. Matt also has experience as a minor league baseball play-by-play announcer and as a PA announcer in D-I college athletics. Matt graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @MattDags28.