As soon as the NCAA Tournament field of 68 was released on Sunday night, I had two quick reactions. First, I thanked the basketball gods that the Syracuse Orange made the NCAA tournament. Immediately after I did that, I took notice of our opponent for our first round No. 7 vs. No. 10 matchup: the Dayton Flyers.
Yes, indeed. The very same Dayton Flyers who eliminated Syracuse from its last tournament appearance in the second round, back in 2014. It immediately brought back memories of the oh-so-painful way in which that season ended: an ugly game punctuated by an agonizing, season-ending defeat.
Since we'll be matched up with Dayton in back-to-back tournament games, it also got me thinking about Syracuse's tournament history. Have we ever played the same team in two consecutive NCAA games? Who have Syracuse's most common NCAA opponents been? How has Syracuse fared in their history in the Midwest Region?
Let's take a look back at the Orange's NCAA history:
There's a first time for everything
On Friday at 12:15 p.m. ET, Syracuse will make program history when they play Dayton, because it will be the first time that Syracuse has played consecutive NCAA tournament games against the same team.
Of course, in order for that to happen, the Orange would have to get matched up in the first round of one tournament against the same team that knocked them out of their previous tournament. So, it's not the most likely thing to occur, but it will still be a program first.
This is also the first time in program history that Syracuse has received a double-digit seed for the NCAA Tournament. In fact, it is the first time the Orange have ever been the lesser-seeded team in a first round match-up. The previous highest seed for Syracuse came in the 1999 tournament, when they received the 8th seed in the South Region. That year, Syracuse lost to the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 69-61, in the first round.
Lastly, this is also the first time that Syracuse will play an NCAA Tournament game in the city of St. Louis. Let's hope we get off on the right foot.
Funny Running Into You Here...
Syracuse has compiled an all-time record of 61-37 in the NCAA Tournament. In those 98 games, Syracuse has played 18 teams more than once. On Friday, Dayton will make it 19.
Of the teams that the Orange has seen more than once in the tournament, there are three that they have seen the most: the Kansas Jayhawks, Kentucky Wildcats, and North Carolina Tar Heels. Syracuse has played each of them three times in the NCAA tournament, going 2-1 against Kansas (including a win that you might remember from 2003) and North Carolina, and 1-2 against Kentucky.
Other notable teams the Orange have played multiple times in the tournament include the Connecticut Huskies (a satisfying, 2-0), the Duke Blue Devils (an unsatisfying, 0-2), the Indiana Hoosiers (1-1), the Marquette Golden Eagles (1-1), the Ohio State Buckeyes (0-2), the Oklahoma Sooners (1-1), and the Vermont Catamounts (1-1 - oh the pain).
Let's just hope we don't add Dayton to that 0-2 list.
A Midwestern Feel
This is the 38th NCAA Tournament for Syracuse, and it will only be the seventh time the Orange have been drawn into the Midwest Region. The last time SU was placed in the Midwest was the 2001 tournament, when the 5th-seeded Orangemen got crushed in the second round by Kansas, 87-58. Funnily enough, our two games in that tournament were actually played in Dayton Arena.
In the six prior Midwest draws, Syracuse has compiled an overall record of 7-6. That means that the Orange have averaged just over two games per tournament when getting drawn into the Midwest Region.
Syracuse has gotten knocked out in the first round twice in the Midwest, lost in the round of 32 twice, and made it to the Sweet 16 once. Our best showing in the Midwest came in 1989, when a star-studded Syracuse team was led by Sherman Douglas, Derrick Coleman, Stevie Thompson, and Billy Owens. That year, Syracuse finished with a 30-8 overall record and an appearance in the Elite Eight, before getting knocked out by Illinois.
We'll have to wait until Friday to see what history repeats itself and what new history will be made. If the first 32 games of this season have been any indication, it's going to be one crazy afternoon.