Usually we don’t put too much stock into the highly venerable ‘Bracketology’ until mid-February, but in its first two editions, Joey Brackets had Syracuse matched up with two opponents it has already played. That’s a big no-no for the selection committee — the chances of that happening are actually zero percent.
In his latest revision, Lunardi has Syracuse as a No. 4 seed in the east region. Mind you, this was before Syracuse’s loss to South Carolina on Saturday. Nonetheless, the East Region in its current form represents the most advantageous path for Syracuse. First and foremost, the Orange would be playing in Buffalo in the round of 64 and 32 and if it advanced the regional would be held at MSG. Secondly, Syracuse has some favorable matchups.
Valpo - First Round
Make no mistake, Valparaiso is a good team. It has one of the best players in the country in Alec Peters. He almost jumped to the NBA before returning to Valparaiso for his final year of eligibility and is currently averaging 25.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Shane Hammink is a nice second option, but if Syracuse shuts down Peters it would have no trouble advancing in what would assuredly be a home
West Virginia - Round of 32
Okay, no favors in the second round this year. While Syracuse struggled against South Carolina’s pressure in the half-court Saturday, I actually like the idea of Syracuse getting pressed. Give me John Gillon and Frank Howard to break the full-court pressure with Andrew White and Tyler Lydon at forwards to pass over the defense. Can you say lobs at the rim? Jim Boeheim is also 22-6 all-time against West Virginia. Granted, Huggins wasn’t coaching for most of those wins but I like Syracuse in this matchup.
Villanova - Sweet 16
In this hypothetical scenario, let’s not pretend Syracuse would see anyone else in the Sweet 16 but ‘Nova. This wouldn’t be a guaranteed victory by any stretch of the imagination, but Villanova is much more favorable for Syracuse than North Carolina or Duke. Jay Wright’s team moves the ball exceptionally well but it is significantly undersized. I’d look for Syracuse to take advantage on the inside (even though its post-game leaves much to be desired) and crash the offensive boards.
Virginia - Elite 8
Again? It turns out Malachi Richardson wouldn’t be available for this one, but neither would Malcolm Brogdon or Anthony Gill. Give me an Austin Nichols-less Virginia team over Indiana or Kansas any day. Xavier would be a better No. 2 seed matchup for Syracuse, but we’ll take what we can get.
Now of course this all means absolutely nothing at this point in the season, but it does present nicely for conversation. What do you think? Want to see something else? Let’s frame this version and show it to the selection committee? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.