I know it might feel like this double-bye business is old hat, but it really wasn't that long ago that Syracuse entered the Big East Tournament in need of victories to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
In 2008, the 19-13 Orange needed quite a few wins in order to make their case for the NCAAs. Instead they lost in the first round and prepared to set NIT attendance records.
A year earlier, the 2007 Orange (21-8) won one and lost one in the BET, in what many thought was more than enough to make the NCAAs. It was not and the Orange went begrudgingly to the NIT.
And the year before that the 2006 Orange finished the season with a losing Big East record (7-9). They needed a miracle to even think about the NCAA Tournament. That miracle will forever be known as Gerry McNamara, who willed the Orange to the Big East Tournament Championship.
After last year's 1-seed and this year's 4-seed, it's hard to realize how quickly fortunes change in the Big East (for better or worse). This is not of one those years to fret. The Orange have the luxury of knowing they are not only a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but a lock for a pretty good seed as well. The 2011 Big East Tournament is all about helping to determine which seed that will be.
Syracuse will have, in theory, three games to prove their worth. Win the Big East Tournament and it's pretty fair to say the Orange can be locked in to a 2-seed. They'll be 28-6 and in the midst of an 8-game winning streak which should include about six wins over ranked teams. Their RPI and KenPom rankings should all be top ten by that point as well.
The only thing that could limit their ability to get that 2-seed would be strong showing by Pitt and Notre Dame. The Orange will have to get through Pitt to make it to the finals (in theory) so they could meet the Irish in the finals. If Pitt goes 1-1 and the Irish go 2-1, a case could still be made that both of those teams have better bodies of work overall. Still, a Big East Tourney Title carries a lot of weight, and keep in mind the Orange will have beaten Notre Dame twice this season (1-1 against Pitt).
Make it to the finals and lose, the Orange are most likely looking at a 3-seed. Especially if Pitt and Notre Dame meet in the finals, which is no foregone conclusion.
Win one, lose one and the Orange are straddling that 3-seed/4-seed line. Again, a lot of it has to do with what else happens to the Big East teams in that top 5-6 range. As well as what happens in the other tourneys.
Lose in the quarterfinals and I feel like you can lock the Orange in to the 4-seed, which, isn't the worst thing in the world. But still, you play to win the games. We'd like to at least emerge from the BET with one win. At least.
Syracuse's Most Likely Seed: No. 4
With loss in Quarters: No. 4
With loss in BET semifinals: No. 3/4
With loss in BET finals: No.3
With BET championship: No. 2