Syracuse basketball’s NCAA Tournament hopes improve after Friday’s games

Jan 9, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Marek Dolezaj (21) grabs a rebound during the first half against the Georgetown Hoyas at Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse had no movement from Thursday to Friday in the NET rankings, staying firm at 39th. They are 1-7 in Quadrant 1 games, 6-1 in Q2, 6-1 in Q3 and 3-0 in Q4.

It was mostly a positive day for Syracuse, with four teams knocked off the bubble, and several other bid stealers having their dreams fall short.

Still, it wasn’t all good news for the Orange, as UNC will remain a Q2 win, Oregon State and Georgetown are one win away from stealing a bid, and Memphis won to set up a potential resume boosting game in the AAC semifinals.

Here’s how it all played out after Friday’s games. A (+) signifies a result that helped the Orange, while a (-) means that the result hurts. Fortunately, there are more pluses than minuses.

From the bubble

  • Ole Miss (+): Syracuse got good news from the SEC, as LSU knocked off Ole Miss, 76-73. ESPN’s Joe Lundari considered Ole Miss (ranked 53rd in NET) its first team on his “Final Four Out,” and with the loss, it’s hard to envision a scenario where they pass Syracuse.
  • Seton Hall (+): It was one of those rare occasions where Syracuse was actually rooting for Georgetown, and it was well worth it. The Hoyas advanced to the Big East Finals by knocking off bubble team Seton Hall, which should eliminate the Pirates from contention for an at-large bid. Creighton knocked off UConn in the other semifinal, which means Syracuse doesn’t have the conundrum of a UConn v. Georgetown finals. Instead, root for Creighton to knock off the Hoyas in the finals, preventing the Hoyas from stealing a bid.
  • SMU (+): The Mustangs were in Lunardi’s “Second Four Out” category, and their dreams ended on Friday, losing to Cincinnati in the AAC semifinals, 74-71.
  • Memphis (-): The Tigers are in Lunardi’s “Second Four Out” and defeated UCF to move on to the AAC semifinals. UCF doesn’t move the needle much for Memphis, but it does give them an opportunity to greatly improve their resume if they can knock off Houston (6th in NET). Circle this game on Saturday.
  • Colorado State (+)/Utah State (-): Both were in the “Last Four In” group in Bracketology with Syracuse. The game had no bad outcome for the Orange, as the winner would stay inside the bubble, while the loser would likely drop out. That said, Utah State was the higher ranked NET team (41) compared to Colorado State (48), so out of the two teams, it’s marginally better that Utah State won because Colorado State is the more likely of the two teams to drop out of the bubble with the loss.

» Related: Here’s where Syracuse’s chances stand after Thursday’s action

Teams that affect Syracuse’s resume

  • North Carolina (-): UNC rallied from down 11 at half, but couldn’t overcome Florida State in the ACC Semifinals, losing 69-66. The Tar Heels came into the day ranked 33 in NET, and with a win, could’ve boosted their NET inside the top 30 and giving the Orange a second Quadrant 1 win. But with the loss, the UNC game will remain a Q2 win.
  • Buffalo (+): The Bulls defeated Akron in the MAC Semifinals, 81-74, which helps Syracuse. Buffalo entered the day 74th in NET, and will likely be a solid Q2 win for the Orange regardless of the outcome of the MAC Finals.

Potential bid-stealers

  • Oregon State (-): SU should be paying attention to the Pac-12 Championship game tomorrow. Oregon State stunned top-seeded Oregon to make the finals, and with a NET at 101, weren’t on the NCAA bubble to start with. A win for Oregon State against Colorado in the Pac-12 title game would be a bid-stealer and take away a potential spot from the Orange.
  • Nevada (+): San Diego State topped Nevada (95th in NET) in the Mountain West semifinals.
  • Mississippi State (+): Alabama knocked out Mississippi State (77th in NET) by a convincing score of 85-48.
  • Tulane (+): The Green Wave (164th in NET) was eliminated in the AAC Tournament by Houston.
  • Georgetown (-): We mentioned the Hoyas above for knocking off Seton Hall, but now they will be playing for a bid-stealing spot in the NCAA Tournament in the Big East finals against Creighton.

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for covering the New York Knicks, as well as for covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]