Here’s where Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament chances stand on Selection Sunday

Feb 13, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Joseph Girard III (11) shoots the ball between Boston College Eagles guard Makai Ashton-Langford (4) and guard Rich Kelly (22) during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It was a decidedly mixed bag of results for the Orange on Saturday as the bubble shrank by two teams. Georgetown and Oregon State pulled up huge upset conference tournament wins, and auto-bid themselves into the NCAA Tournament.

Still, it was far from a bad day for the Orange, as three other teams on the bubble that may have passed Syracuse all lost. As it stands on Saturday, Syracuse’s resume is 1-7 in Quadrant 1 games, 6-1 in Q2, 6-1 in Q3 and 3-0 in Q4. There’s still some movement on that to be had before Selection Sunday (more on that below).

Here’s how it all breaks down after Saturday’s games (as a reminder, a (+) indicates a good result for Syracuse, while a (-) indicates a bad one):

The bid stealers

  • Oregon State (-): Oregon State, picked to finish last in the preseason in the Pac-12, and starting the day 97th in NET, upset Colorado, 70-68, in the Pac-12 finals to clinch an auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament.
  • Georgetown (-): The Beavers were the second bid stealers on Saturday, joining Georgetown. The Hoyas, also picked to finish last in the Big East in the preseason, dominated Creighton, 73-48, in the championship game to gobble up a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Cincinnati (-): The Bearcats eliminated Wichita State (more on them below) from contention, while creating a potential bid-stealing opportunity for themselves. Cincinnati (119th NET) will face off against Houston in the ACC championship on Sunday. Circle this game in red and hope that the Bearcats lose.

Fellow bubble teams

  • Memphis (+): Memphis entered the day in ESPN Joe Lunardi’s “Second Four Out” and needed a statement win over Houston (5th in NET) to boost their resume. And though the Tigers made it close, Houston hung on for a 76-74 win, effectively eliminating Memphis from contention.
  • Utah State (+): Utah State was among Lunardi’s “Last Four In,” and could’ve had a carefree Sunday had they won the Mountain West Tournament against San Diego State. But the Aztecs, ranked 21st in NET, won 68-57, and left the Aggies in limbo.
  • Wichita State (+): The Shockers (64th NET) were Lunardi’s first team in his “First Four Out,” and needed a win over Cincinnati in the AAC semifinals to make their case for an NCAA bid. That didn’t happen, and with two bid-stealers winning on Saturday, they’re likely on the outside looking in.

Games that affect Syracuse’s resume

  • Georgetown (+): The Hoyas giveth, the Hoyas taketh away. On the one hand, the Hoyas stole an auto-bid, which hurts any team on the bubble. On the other hand, Georgetown entered the day 76th in NET, and should move into the top 75, giving the Orange another Quadrant 2 victory.
  • Buffalo (-): Then again, it may be one Q2 win in, and another Q2 win out. Buffalo made the MAC title game, and in doing so, also moved into the top 75 in NET, entering the day at 72. The Bulls’ loss to Ohio (93rd NET) could drop them right back out.

The bottom line

So what does this all mean for Syracuse? Well, at the start of the day, Lundari had Syracuse in his “Last Four Byes” category, and with the loss of two bubble spots, he’s bumped Syracuse into the “Last Four In” line as his top team.

While Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament bid is likely not in danger, it may need to participate in the play-in games as a result.

Syracuse shares the “Last Four In” with Louisville, Drake and Utah State, and if you compare resumes, you can see why Lunardi believes the Orange is the top team among this tier.

» Related: Syracuse loses to Virginia on heartbreaking buzzer beater

Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Syracuse (40) 1-7 6-1 6-1 3-0
Louisville (56) 1-6 6-0 4-1 2-0
Drake (43) 1-2 5-0 6-2 11-0
Utah State (37) 2-4 2-1 7-2 8-0

While Utah State has two Q1 wins and the highest NET, they also have two Q3 losses, and played a weaker strength of schedule, beating up on eight  Q4 teams. Louisville’s NET is the lowest of the bunch, though its resume is very similar to SU’s, while Drake played the most Q4 games and also had two Q3 losses.

As we mentioned above, Cincinnati could steal a bid tomorrow with a win in the AAC Championship, but even if that happens, it’s more likely to affect Drake and Utah State’s NCAA hopes.

Still, as we know, Lunardi’s history with predicting Syracuse is laughably bad and is the source of a long-running joke, so it’s not a guarantee that the Orange is in.

The good news is that CBS’s Jerry Palm (Last Four In), Bart Torvik (Last Four Byes) and NCAA’s Andy Katz (Last Four Byes) all have Syracuse in their brackets.

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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]