After losing to the Pittsburgh Panthers in the ACC Tournament, the Syracuse Orange have concluded their case for why they should participate in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and their evidence is...not that great. Let's try to see it from both sides to determine how the committee might look at the Orange on Selection Sunday.
Three Things Working For The Orange
Quality Wins: If you're simply looking at who Syracuse defeated this season, you've got a few quality teams to choose from. The Orange defeated No. 17 Texas A&M to win the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Orange also beat No. 19 Duke in Cameron, which is sure to be bonus points. Other notable wins over decent teams include UConn, Notre Dame, and St. Bonaventure. The Texas Southern win could have some weight as well if they win their conference tournament.
Boeheim's Suspension: There's been a lot of confusion about how the committee is going to take into account the nine games in which Jim Boeheim was suspended and Mike Hopkins ran the team. Its a stretch where the quality of play fell off a cliff and SU suffered two of its worst losses of the season (Georgetown, St. John's). Immediately following the suspension, the team returned to their previous level of play and rattled off a bunch of wins. If correlation implies causation, its a factor that could work in the Orange's favor.
Solid Schedule: This wasn't one of those "Syracuse hasn't left New York State yet" schedules. The Orange went to the Bahamas for three games and beat two solid opponents. They followed that up with a date against a decent Wisconsin team. Followed that with a showdown in D.C. against Georgetown. Their SOS stands at 35 overall so even if their record isn't much to look at, this is a team that put itself out there to earn it.
Three Things Working Against The Orange
Terrible Losses: We wrote about the three losses this team desperately wishes it could have back and they're all doozies. Georgetown ended up with a losing record so that looks terrible. The loss to 8-23 St. John's might be the most confusing thing that's happened to Syracuse basketball since Paul Harris was allowed to inbound. While Clemson made a decent go of it this season, losing them in overtime by one point stings.
Not Many Quality Wins After December: The best team (rankings-wise) that Syracuse beat this season was Texas A&M and that was back in November. Other than the win over Duke, the Orange don't have a lot of resume victories from January, February or March. In fact, SU went 0-5 against the top four ACC regular-season teams. The Orange fattened up on lesser opponents, which isn't special.
Late-Season Swoon: The Orange went from 18-8 and looking solid to 19-13 and on the very edge of the bubble within three weeks. Not only did they lose five of their last six but that includes at least two games against opponents they should have beaten. The committee has said they will take into account what happened in December but more important is what SU did in March (0-3).