A quick take on Syracuse’s tense, but ultimately fulfilling Selection Sunday:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse is going dancing, selected as the No. 11 seed in the midwest region, and will face off against sixth-seeded San Diego State. It is head coach Jim Boeheim’s 35th NCAA appearance and the culmination of another year on the bubble for the Orange. The ACC ultimately sent seven teams to the NCAA Tournament, with Virginia, UNC, Georgia Tech, Clemson and FSU being the other teams. Fellow bubble team Louisville was the final team left out.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse received bad news early on in the draw, as Utah State, Wichita State and Drake were all announced early. The three teams were fellow bubble teams, but Syracuse was considered to have a better resume than the trio. The moment was even more perilous for the Orange considering that Georgetown and Oregon State had stolen auto-bids in the NCAA Tournament, dramatically shrinking the opportunities for bubble teams. But Syracuse was widely considered to be safely in the Tournament by most prognosticators, and even beat the projections by being one of the “Last Four Byes” as opposed to the widely projected “Last Four In.”
HERO: If you look at the schedule, it was two key home wins to close the season that did it for the Orange, plus the win against NC State in the second round of the ACC Tournament. Syracuse was coming off consecutive road losses in Q1 games against Duke and Georgia Tech, but revived their tournament chances with three consecutive Q2 wins against North Carolina, Clemson and the Wolfpack. As it turns out, the game against NC State really did turn into a “win and in” as Syracuse and NCST had similar records and resumes.
ZERO: The official “First Four Out” according to the NCAA were Louisville, Colorado State, Saint Louis and Ole Miss. That means that both Louisville and Colorado State were in the Tournament prior to the bid-stealing from Georgetown and Oregon State. If any team in the NCAA field is unable to play because of positive COVID tests prior to the start of the Tournament, then the NCAA would look to this list as the replacement teams.
WHAT’S NEXT: San Diego State won the Mountain West Tournament, and finished 23-4 on the season. Round 2 of the tournament begins on Friday. SU opens as a 1.5-point underdog.