Syracuse Basketball: When The Madness Of March Is A Good Thing

Ronald Martinez

Syracuse basketball is seemingly in a bit of a mid-season funk at the wrong time. However, history has proven the month of March cleans the slate of a lot of struggling teams that will soon be in the Final Four.

Things obtain nicknames mainly on truths.

The World Series is called, "The Fall Classic," because it is played in the Fall. Selection Sunday is called Selection Sunday because it is held on a Sunday.

The NCAA Tournament is called "March Madness" because college hoops is, as the dictionary puts it, "the quality or condition of being insane," during that period of time.

The madness is why sports fans, especially the casual ones, love the NCAA Tournament

During a three-week span, it is very likely one will watch something unexpected happen: i.e. a No. 15-seed knocks off a No. 2 or a near-half court shot going in to help a team win at the final buzzer.

Also, every once in awhile you'll witness the unexplainable: i.e. George Mason, VCU making Final Four runs, Butler making back-to-back National Championship Game appearances or whatever the heck UConn did a few years back.

These are all reasons why we all love March, and are also why fans should not give up on the 2012-13 Syracuse basketball team just yet.

See, a funny thing happens when the short month of February turns into March: Things no longer make sense.

Currently for SU, things do not look great. Syracuse's senior "leaders" have both decided to take the last few, BIG, games off; the player with the most raw talent on the court is showing he is more raw than talented; and nobody taller than 6-foot-8 has shown an ability to do anything during a majority of the season.

It is easy to admit the No. 12-ranked Orange are flawed and those flaws could come back to bite them in a one-and-done scenario.

But before you start penciling in a second-round upset lets stop and think about March and the clean slate it makes.

Fact: In the last three years at least one team seeded fourth or lower has reached the Final Four and nearly half of those teams (5 of 12) fit that mold.

Looking at those teams' resumes pre-NCAA Tournament, well, there's not a lot to be impressed with.

2012: Louisville ended its regular season losing four of its last six games, including two in a row at the tail end. The Cardinals only earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAAs after rallying to win the Big East Tournament.

The next day, Selection Sunday, Louisville earned a favorable draw in the West Regional bracket where they played: No. 13 Davidson, No. 5 New Mexico, No. 1 Michigan State (the worst of the No. 1 seeds) and No. 7 Florida (imagine SU playing the Gators in the Elite 8 last year and how differently that may have turned out for the Orange?).

2011: No. 11 VCU and No. 8 Butler both made it to the Final Four, as did No. 4 Kentucky.

The Rams were the biggest surprise after they closed out the regular season losing four of their last five games. After being defeated by Old Dominion in the CAA Tournament Final, VCU was one of the last four teams into the NCAA Tournament, which forced a trip to Dayton, OH.

The rest of VCU's and Butler's stories are history, though, it must be pointed out that the Bulldogs were actually really good that season and probably deserved better than a 8-seed.

Kentucky finished the regular season with 22-8 record and went only 10-6 in a league that set five teams to the tournament. Of course, the Wildcats' roster featured many former NBAers and key parts to the 2012 Championship squad, but they were a work in progress heading into March losing a late-Feb. contest at Arkansas, which finished the season just 18-13.

(Note: this is the same year that a Kemba Walker-led UConn squad made its run to a BET and National Championship in stunning fashion.)

2010: No. 5 Michigan State and No. 5 Butler each made it to the National Semifinals.

During the regular season, the Spartans suffered a three-game losing streak and headed into the NCAAs with a quarterfinal loss in the Big 10 Tournament to Minnesota, which earned a No. 11 seed and was knocked out in the first round.

As for Butler, well, this was before they were Butler and still getting crappy seedings even though its resume was pretty solid. Plus, Syracuse fans know how good that Bulldog team was.

In addition, lets talk about 2009 when a No. 3-seeded Villanova Wildcats squad, which suffered a bad, late-Feb. home loss to a Georgetown -- a team that didn't make the NCAAs -- made the Final Four. That team was led by a very talented group of guards - Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes - that never made it to the BET Finals.

For the past few years, Syracuse basketball fans have been spoiled. Instead of just being happy the Orange found their way into the NCAA Tournament, like in years past, now the fan base is obsessed with No. 1 seeds, where SU will play in the first few rounds of a Region and if the Orange will be considered a favorite to win the whole thing.

Being in the spotlight has consumed #OrangeNation, and the reality is being in the spotlight, especially in the NCAA Tournament, mainly means you're destined to disappoint.

Losing isn't good, but this late in the season it only hurts if a team is on the NCAA Tournament bubble, which the Orange are not.

Syracuse is in the NCAA Tournament and has the talent to beat nearly anyone in the field.

This year, seeding will be almost meaningless as there's no great team just teams that could present a bad match up; which is the case for Syracuse EVER YEAR.

It is funny how we all talk about college hoops -- "This year's NCAA Tournament is going to be insane because no top seed will be safe!" -- and forget that the pendulum swings both ways -- if things get straightened out in time, a team with flaws can still make the Final Four.

As history has proved, even during "normal" years teams that seem faulty in the regular season can still find a way to win in March. This is why we love its madness, and for once maybe, just maybe, the Orange don't become a victim of it, but, instead benefit.

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