1. Did you think SU would get in?
2. What are their chances to going any further?
Be Honest, Did You Think Syracuse Would Get In?
I'm not surprised SU got in, but I am surprised the Orange is playing Dayton instead of playing in Dayton. I didn't think there was any way Syracuse was getting out of the last four in , and it's even more surprising now that we know the committee didn't give any thought to the "extenuating circumstances." But you take what you can get, and now it's time for the Orange to prove the critics wrong.
I'm not surprised Syracuse is in the Tournament, but I am a little surprised that the Orange didn't get slotted in one of the play-in games.
Initially I was surprised when Syracuse got in. The conversation shifted from being an at-large contender to the Syracuse vs. Pitt game being an elimination contest.
On Saturday, I would've said that we had maybe a 15-20% chance to make it. SU had its shots against Florida State and Pitt, and blew them, and it seemed hard to keep teams like Monmouth and St. Mary's out. On Sunday, with a lot of the bracketologists that are better at their jobs than Joe Lunardi coming out with SU in, my hopes raised, but I was still pretty surprised when the bracket leaked, and am definitely surprised by SU's No. 39 ranking and 10 seed. I'll take it though.
I thought that Syracuse had an outside chance coming into the day, especially with the possibility of UConn winning the AAC Tournament later on. When that happened, I felt that our chances were much improved. Once the leaked bracket started making the rounds on Twitter and all of the previous sections had come true, I had a strong feeling we were in. Long story short, I'm pleasantly surprised, but not totally shocked.
After the Pitt loss, I thought Syracuse's chances of making the NCAA tournament were gone. But as Championship week moved along, some domino's fell in favor of the Orange, and ultimately I thought they had a 75% chance of getting into the tournament after UConn took care of Memphis in the final conference championship game. At that time many of the experts seemed to think Syracuse had a good chance of getting in.
I would've been more surprised on Friday than I was on Sunday, oddly. When bracketologists started changing their tune and I really looked at the mid-major resumes, I became less and less impressed with our competition for one of those final spots. So yes, still surprised. Just not a ton.
I did not personally expect them to get in but I also knew there were factors in play that made my own opinions moot. I also knew that the factors the committee focused on could have changed the weighting of a lot of things, so while I expected to see us miss out I didn't think it was that shocking to get in. The seed is more shocking, however.
How Tough Is Syracuse's Road To Sleeper Final Four Status?
It’s a little early to be talking about the Final Four, but Syracuse’s toughest game on that road comes early on. Michigan State is the toughest match-up in the region for the Orange with their rebounding ability and all-around size, and if I were making the brackets I would have given the Spartans Virginia’s #1 seed. If SU can beat Tom Izzo in March it can beat anyone, so the Syracuse faithful should be thinking Final Four or bust if the Orange makes it out of St. Louis.
If Syracuse is able to survive and advance on Friday, the reward is Michigan State in Round 2, which is probably the worst #2 seed to see this year. Look if SU goes out at the hand of the Spartans, so be it, but it would be interesting to see a Syracuse team with noting to lose take a shot at a heavy favorite. It's been a while since we've seen that in a post-season game.
I was pleasantly surprised with Syracuse avoiding playing in Dayton to play against Dayton. I think it's a favorable first round match-up but the round of 32 is the end of the road. Michigan State shoots the ball too well and will have success against the zone, IF Syracuse gets past Dayton. Forbes is one of the best shooters in the country while Valentine is arguably the best player. That's not a recipe for success for Syracuse.
This would be a pretty ridiculous run, unless SU is helped out by some big upsets. On paper, Syracuse matches up well with Dayton. They have some injury issues, they aren't a scary shooting team, and they haven't played well of late. Of course, the name and some of the guys on the team will scare people after 2014, which is fair. After that, beating Michigan State would be a massive upset. Sparty might be the best team in the country with Denzel Valentine back at 100%. After that, Utah and Jakob Poeltl terrify me because of SU's lack of interior depth, and Virginia, the region's top seed, has had SU's number since the move to the ACC. Basically, let's just be happy we're in, and hope that Mike Gbinije can make himself some NBA Draft money this week. A win over Dayton and a competitive game with MSU, and I'm content.
I'm not really sure how much of a shot we have to make the Final Four, but I definitely believe we can avenge our Round of 32 loss to Dayton from two years ago. I agree with Boeheim that the team has been playing well, for the most part, despite losing five of our last six, so I'm sure we could hang with Michigan State for a while. Who knows? Maybe we'll be firing on all cylinders and make a run! They do call it "March Madness" for a reason.
Syracuse's first round match-up is not a bad one, they can beat Dayton, its just a matter of whether the Orange's shots are falling. Dayton is by no means a push over team or program, as we saw in 2013. If the Orange do beat Dayton, they unfortunately would play the best 2 seed, in Michigan State (as long as the Spartans beat Middle Tenn. State). I would not pick the Orange to beat the Spartans, who had a great case for a number 1 seed. I ultimately see Syracuse knocking off Dayton, but then coming up short in the round of 32.
As far as the road to the Final Four, it'll hinge on Michigan State. Beat them and all bets are off regarding who we can/can't beat. There are tough teams in the field, but a win over the Spartans means we can beat any of Seton Hall, Utah or Purdue too.
Well, let's say we beat Dayton, we're almost-certainly looking at Michigan State on Sunday. They're one of the best rebounding teams in the nation. Honestly, if we beat them, it's a mega-upset. Also, if we beat them, that basically says we've turned a page and anything's possible. So, let's just say everything hinges on that.