Another year, and another season where Syracuse basketball is on the bubble. Over the last 5 years, that seems to be SU’s permanent fixture come championship season, and this year is no different.
With Syracuse’s tournament hopes closely pinned to the ACC Tournament, we spoke with ESPN.com’s John Gasaway to get his take.
It’s an especially exciting March Madness for Gasaway, whose book Miracles on the Hardwood: The Hope-and-a-Prayer Story of a Winning Tradition in Catholic College Basketball, is now available for pre-order and comes out March 16.
While the book focuses on Catholic schools, there’s plenty of Syracuse mentions in there.
“When you flip the index, Jim Boeheim and Syracuse get hefty sections,” Gasaway said. “You can just point to decade of choice starting with the 70s, and they (Syracuse) were there. I certainly want everybody, not just the fans of the Big East and Gonzaga to run out and buy it.”
And is Gasaway buying Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament hopes? It seemed dicey two weeks ago when the Orange lost Q1 road games against Duke and Georgia Tech. But Syracuse closed out the regular season with strong Q2 wins against UNC and Clemson, putting them back in the conversation.
Still, there is work for the Orange to do if it wants to go dancing later this month.
“You hear that a lot (with Syracuse), ‘Win two more games and you’re in the NCAA Tournament,'” Gasaway said. “John Gasaway thinks that too. The only asterisk I put next to that is if you lose your next game and the rest of the conference championships go nuts, then you would start to sweat a little bit.”
But the simple formula is this: “Win two more games. Beat NC State. Beat Virginia. You’re in.”
As it stands, Syracuse’s bracket for the ACC Championship presents the best path to get to the NCAA Tournament because of SU’s draw if the Orange slip past the Wolfpack in the second round.
“As we’re talking now, Syracuse is showing as one of the teams that’s one or two outside of the tournament field,” Gasaway said. “They have to beat NC State in their first game of the ACC Tournament.”
“Do that, and you’ve a game against Virginia. That’s wonderful news for fans of the Orange, because Virginia, by about 10 spots is the highest ranked ACC team in terms of the NCAA’s NET rankings. That is the best neutral floor win you can get in the ACC.”
I then welcome on TJO Editor in Chief Brad Bierman to the podcast. We break down the state of the Syracuse basketball program heading into championship season, and whether the Orange has what it takes to win two more games and stamp their ticket to March Madness.
Brad finishes by talking about the need (or lack thereof) for an NIT Tournament this year, while I close on the Orange women’s basketball team’s potential NCAA Tournament draw.