At this time one week ago, Syracuse fans were pretty psyched about things. The Orange were 25-0 overall, 12-0 in the ACC, and in first place. Nothing was necessarily clinched in the ACC Tournament, but we made some assumptions -- both rightly and wrongly. But, two losses later, here we are. Not in first place, but we still have a shot to take first place. There's also a chance we could end up in third place. While these outcomes get progressively less ideal as we go down the line, we have to look at all of them to understand what's ahead. First, a look at the current ACC standings:
Oh, and here's a collection of tiebreaker protocol for ACC Tournament seedings, which we'll be referencing at least a few times.
Syracuse Can Finish in First Place If:
The Orange win their final three games at Virginia, vs. Georgia Tech and at Florida State. In this regard, they control their own destiny, because even if UVa wins its other games, the loss to SU pulls them into a tiebreaker they'd lose due to the teams' one head-to-head matchup. They can also take first if Virginia loses two of its final three (one being Syracuse) and Syracuse wins two of its final three (with one of those being Virginia, obviously). If UVa loses out, the Orange would also take the conference.
Syracuse Can Finish in Second Place If:
They lose to Virginia. Or at least that's the easiest way, since that would give SU three losses in league play, which would then be the Hoos' worst-case possibility (and they'd take the tiebreaker there). Alternatively, if SU beats Virginia, but loses another one of its other two games (while Virginia wins their other two), the Orange would also finish second. The Orange could also lose any two games and finish second, so long as Duke loses one more game as well (SU owns the tiebreaker with UNC).
Syracuse Can Finish in Third Place If:
They lose two of three games and Duke wins its final two games -- but only IF one of SU's losses is to Virginia. In that case, Both Syracuse and Duke would have four losses in league play, but according to the protocol spelled out above, the first tie-breaker (after head-to-head) is record against teams above them. Against the Hoos, the Orange would be 0-1 in that case, while Duke would be 1-0. Advantage goes to the Blue Devils.
Syracuse Cannot Finish in Fourth Place:
If they lose all three remaining games, which would drop them to 13-5 in ACC play, the Orange can still only finish third. If Duke loses to North Carolina and wins at Wake Forest, AND UNC wins its four remaining games, the Blue Devils and SU would both be 13-5 in the ACC. However, when we go to the tiebreaker protocol above, Duke would have a 1-2 record vs. UVa and UNC, while Syracuse would be 1-1 against those teams. This gives Syracuse the advantage and slots them into third place at the very worst.
So there it is. Syracuse is assured a double-bye (and anyone who remembers the Big East Tournament setup just cringed), and could still be on any of the top three lines. Best way to finish first is obviously to win out. Hopefully the Orange have mercy on our lives and just win out in comfortable fashion (not happening). Just 12 more days, folks...
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