Just before Jim Boeheim's return Syracuse was thought to be an NIT team with a 10-6 record. I had written a post on January 19th about how Syracuse could still make the big dance and the Orange have followed that blueprint to a T thus far. Of course that post has nothing to do with how Syracuse has performed on the court, but the framework serves as a guide to making the NCAA Tournament.
First things first. Let's take a look at the numbers. Syracuse has improved its record to 16-8 and 6-5 in ACC play. As of yesterday, Syracuse has a rating performance index (RPI) of 44 and strength of schedule (SOS) of 46. What's more, Syracuse has an impressive 3-0 record at neutral locations (thanks, Battle 4 Atlantis) and is 3-3 against RPI top 25 teams. The Orange is also 5-4 against the RPI top 50.
This bodes well as it means Syracuse can win at neutral locations (All NCAA Tournament games are at neutral sites) and it can beat formidable opponents. What's lacking is Syracuse's win/loss record on the road at 2-5. So where does all this land Syracuse currently?
According to Joe Lunardi, Syracuse is among the last four in and would play Seton Hall in Dayton, Ohio as a 12 seed. Should Syracuse win that game, Lunardi has Baylor waiting for Syracuse in the first round as a six seed. Add Baylor to the list of teams that would match up great against Syracuse. Baylor has this guy, who would present a real challenge to Syracuse's interior defense. But that's a different story. Moving along.
Jerry Palm of CBS has Syracuse currently as a 10 seed that would face off against South Carolina in Brooklyn. Should Syracuse win that
home game, it would play Villanova for a Sweet 16 spot -- a matchup that Chip Patterson would relish.
Keeping it locked with our friends over at Blogging the Bracket, Chris Dobbertean has Syracuse as an ominous blend of the above two bracketologists. He has Syracuse as a 10 seed squaring off against Baylor but on Tobacco Road. Maryland is the two seed in that region.
USA Today projects Syracuse to be a nine seed facing off against Oregon State. That would be a great story line as former Syracuse player Stevie Thompson is an assistant on that team where his son -- Stevie Thompson Jr. -- plays along side one of the best guards in the country, Gary Payton II. Syracuse would play in Oklahoma City and should it advance past Oregon State, it would play Oklahoma.
The bad news? None of those match-ups would necessarily be favorable. The good news? Everyone has Syracuse as an NCAA Tournament team right now and with two fifth-year seniors in its backcourt coupled with an improving 2-3 zone, you never know what Syracuse could be capable of. Don't misinterpret this as me saying a Final Four run is going to happen because I certainly don't think that's likely, but let's leave this video here for good measure.