Last night Greg Gumbel told us the Syracuse Orange would play the Dayton Flyers on Friday as the 10th seed of the NCAA Tournament's Midwest region. As was expected, the internet went crazy. Syracuse was (and still is) one of the most controversial teams now off the bubble, and the critics were as loud as ever on Selection Sunday after Syracuse got a bid over some of the other options.
Why don't we start out with someone who had Syracuse out all week; Mr. Bracketology himself: Joe Lunardi.
Further down the bracket, two of the questionable at-large choices -- Vanderbilt (RPI of 61) and Syracuse (RPI of 71) -- won only six of 23 road games combined, including 1-9 against Top 50 teams. That’s not counting the eggs they laid in their respective conference tournaments or their aggregate 6-16 record against the field. Even without player (Vandy) or coach (Syracuse) absences, it’d be asking a lot to turn those records into something respectable. (Another aside: Even with all the known weaknesses of the RPI, do you know how hard it is to have the number Syracuse had given their decent nonconference schedule and an ACC slate? The only way to do it is to lose too many games to the wrong teams. That’s why William & Mary, Stony Brook, Hofstra, Chattanooga, Valparaiso, Little Rock, UNC Wilmington, Yale, Princeton, Akron and, yes, Monmouth all had better RPIs than the Orange. I can only hope this was a case of poor judgment and not power-conference politics -- although neither is a very acceptable answer.
We get it, Joe; you know numbers. But who can appeal to my emotional side?
Same #Cuse fan who knows I'm right thinks I'm a hater for saying on tv what they said all week— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) March 14, 2016
Even Dickie V chimed in on Syracuse's bid.
Syracuse in / must have given great respect to Jim Boeheim missing 9 games when Cuse went 4-5— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) March 13, 2016
That's what I thought, and probably what most people thought until the committee told us the exact opposite.
"Syracuse had 5 top-50 wins. We knew about extenuating circumstances but it wasn't a factor." - Castiglione, committee chair— John Cassillo (@JohnCassillo) March 14, 2016
So Syracuse was firmly in as a 10 seed even with Mike Hopkins's 4-5 record on the resume. That's surprising, but also reassuring for Orange fans. At least now there's nothing else to complain about on that front, right?
Syracuse!! Once again in College Hoops..you break rules..you get rewarded!— Dan Dakich (@dandakich) March 13, 2016
And there's plenty more where those came from. If there's one thing to be learned from all this, it's that Syracuse haters will stop at nothing to hate on Syracuse. Maybe that's why Jim Boeheim is so grumpy all the time.