first_img Published on March 10, 2017 at 5:11 pm Facebook Twitter Google+ Whatever happens on Sunday, we’ll know why. Syracuse beat six opponents ranking in the RPI Top 50. The Orange also lost 11 of its 13 games outside of the Carrier Dome.Whichever statistic the NCAA Tournament selection committee values more will determine SU’s postseason. Even as conference tournaments rage on and the bubble on which Syracuse sits expands and collapses by the hour, that’s what the Orange’s season boils down to.SU’s (18-14, 10-8 Atlantic Coast) five-point loss against Miami in its ACC tournament opener put the team in a precarious spot. Syracuse and its fans have been forced to wait more than four full days to discover if the Orange will fill one of the NCAA Tournament’s 68 spots. But beyond the typical early-March speculation that surrounds bubble teams nationwide, SU faces an unusual conundrum because of the unprecedented drop-off from its highest highs to its lowest lows.Syracuse’s inclusion or exclusion from the NCAA Tournament will be as much a testament to the committee’s values as it is to Syracuse’s resume, one of the most fascinating in recent years.As of games through Thursday, the Orange’s RPI sat at 86th in the country. That’s 14 places lower than the lowest-ever RPI for a team that received an at-large bid. (SU set the record with an RPI of 72 last season and then made the Final Four.) But the committee will look beyond RPI and that’s where it gets muddled.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textTwice in the past week, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim pointed out that four teams ahead of the Orange in the ACC had three road wins in the conference, only one more than SU. It’s tough to win conference games on the road, but the part Boeheim left out is that Syracuse also went 0-3 outside of the Dome in nonconference play.No team since 2009 has received an at-large bid with only two true road wins and no neutral-site wins, according to Andy Bottoms, ranked by Bracketmatrix.com as the top bracketologist over the past five years.“The argument Syracuse has is going to be the argument Syracuse has right up until Selection Sunday,” said Patrick Stevens, whose projections appear in the Washington Post, on Feb. 27. “They beat all these really good teams, but … the committee, they reward road performance and frankly tons of teams are just home court heroes and that’s exactly what Syracuse is.”Jessica Sheldon | Staff PhotographerThen come the six Top 50 wins, including three against teams in the AP Top 10 at the time. After the Orange beat Duke on John Gillon’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer on Feb. 22, Gillon said SU deserved to make the Tournament because Syracuse was the only unranked team to beat three Top 10 teams, per ESPN.With those three wins, it’s clear the Orange can compete against any team in the country. Should SU make the Tournament, it would undoubtedly be a tough team to beat. But that raises the question of what the committee is selecting. According to the NCAA, the 68-team field is comprised of 32 automatic qualifiers via conference championships and the “best” 36 among the rest. Whether the interpretation of that is most deserving (Syracuse probably isn’t) or most likely to advance (the Orange may be) will dictate SU’s landing spot.“The committee has always looked at good wins. … Our profile this year is better than it was last year,” Boeheim said, before including a significant caveat, “in terms of top wins.”But last year, SU beat two legitimate nonconference teams and its biggest win of the year was on the road. This year, all six Top 50 wins were at home.Since 2009, only one team with six Top 50 wins has been left out of the Tournament field, per Bottoms. So, which outweighs the other? The great wins or the road woes — because Syracuse has both.“Those are the facts,” Boeheim said. “The committee’s going to have to figure out where it all falls.”Paul Schwedelson is a senior staff writer at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] or Twitter @pschweds. Commentslast_img

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