The TNIAAM staff got together to answer some vital questions in regards to Syracuse's NCAA Tournament profile and what the Orange can do to secure a bid. Without further ado:
What does Syracuse have to do over its last three games to make The Tournament?
Andy Pregler: I think they need to win at least two games. It doesn't matter if one is UNC and it doesn't matter if they play UNC especially close (the committee rarely takes those kinds of things into consideration unless it ends up as an OT classic) so just get to 20 wins.
Kevin Wall: I think 2-1 and Syracuse is safely in, no matter what happens in the ACC Tournament.
Sean Keeley: Coupling with the ACC Tournament, I think if Syracuse wants to feel good about its chances, it has to win two of the final three games in the regular season and win at least one ACC Tournament game. Preferably two. You can never be too sure and you don't know how the other automatic bids are going to shake out, so you never want to take it for granted that you've done enough when you're in SU's position.
James Szuba: I think Syracuse has to either beat NC State and Florida State while dropping to North Carolina and the first round ACC Tournament game. Or it can beat North Carolina, one of the aforementioned teams/first ACC Tournament game. If it beats North Carolina, one of either NC State/FSU/First round ACC game and drops the other two it will have six top 50 wins, three wins and no losses on a neutral floor and 20 wins overall -- just good enough to get in. Some advice: win all games.
How far do you think Syracuse can go if it makes the Big Dance?
AP: Could? I think Syracuse could win three games with the right match ups, but honestly, I'm going to bet on one. Everyone is so streaky this year and Syracuse isn't trending in the right direction.
KW: Obviously a lot depends on matchups, but I think this Syracuse team could win two games and make the Sweet 16.
SK: Honestly, I don't expect this team to make it out of the first weekend. If we assume they're going to be in the 7-10 seed range, they'll have a pretty solid opponent in the second round. I just don't know if this is a team that has the tools to compete at that level. I mean, they DO have the tools, but will they put it together? Probably not.
JS: I think Syracuse's NCAA Tournament ceiling is the Sweet 16. Realistically if Syracuse makes the dance I think it drops its first round game.
Which team(s) would you want to see Syracuse matchup with?
AP: I'd like to see Cuse take on any team struggling who relies on the three ball. I don't trust the interior at all right now or in the tournament, so drawing the eight seed and then playing 'Nova or Oklahoma would probably be the team's best chance to make the Sweet 16.
KW: For these questions, I'll assume Syracuse is in the 8-10 range, so looking at 7-9 seeds, I'd rather see South Carolina, Texas Tech or Florida.
SK: The first round is a crapshoot, let's just stay away from someone like Wisconsin. We don't need that again. In the second round, I'll take Villanova because it's Villanova in the NCAA Tournament. They're bound to lose. We probably won't see Virginia that early but I feel like we could hang with them.
JS: Give me a team that shoots the three ball poorly -- Syracuse ranks 18th in the nation in three point field goal percentage defense. I favor Syracuse over teams like Alabama, St. Joe's, and Texas Tech. If there were a one or two seed that Syracuse would have to play against I'd prefer it be Villanova, Xavier or Oregon.
Which team(s) would you not want to see Syracuse matchup with?
KW: Syracuse would be best to avoid USC, Seton Hall or Wichita State in an opening round game.
SK: No thanks to Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina or Michigan State.
JS: I'd like to see Syracuse avoid any team with a dominant big man or a team that shoots the three well. Good three point shooting teams to avoid: Colorado, Oregon State, Michigan State and Oklahoma. Teams with good big men to avoid: Providence, North Carolina, Baylor and Kansas.
Lastly, how do you see the rest of the season shaking out?
AP: Honestly? I think they take care of NC State, play UNC surprisingly close, then lose to FSU. I'm not sure why but I really don't like the way the team is trending going into a season ending match up with a tricky team. That will set up the need for an ACC Tourney run, which if the threes start falling is very possible.
KW: I think Syracuse NC State and Florida State, but loses to UNC. In the ACC Tournament, the Orange win their first game before getting knocked out. Right now, I'd say Syracuse ends up a 9 seed, wins their opening round game, and gets beat by a #1 seed in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
SK: I'm going to say the Orange defeat NC State this weekend, lose to NC and then pull a gritty win over FSU on the road to close out the regular season. From there we enter the ACC Tournament as, say, the 8-seed. We beat Pitt/Virginia Tech in the first game but lose to the top seed (UNC?) in the next round. That leaves us 21-12 which puts us on the bubble but we make it into the NCAAs as a 9-seed. We're able to grind out a win in the first round but the 1-seed cuts us down to size in the second game. So it goes.
JS: Ultimately I think Syracuse beats NC State and UNC and drops to FSU. Syracuse wins its first game in the ACC Tournament and loses first round in the NCAA Tournament. I think the goal from the beginning of the season was and still is to just make the big dance. Whatever happens from that point is just added success in my view.
There you have it. What do you think, Orange Nation? Add your thoughts to the questions below in the comments section.