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Syracuse Has the Burden of Proof. Now What Will the Orange Do With It?

Hey, sports mimics life sometimes. And vice versa.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

For nearly three weeks (wrapped up this past Thursday), I was on jury duty. I couldn't say a whole lot about it during the trial, and won't here either. But during my three-week barely lawful imprisonment stint of civic duty, I had a lot of time to think about things other than the case. One of those things was (of course) Syracuse Orange basketball, and how their current predicament paralleled the trial a bit.

Every season, Syracuse and most other teams start the year as a plaintiff (this was a civil suit). The field is the defense, leaving the burden of proof solely in the hands of the plaintiff (Syracuse, for our purposes). If SU can tip the scales even slightly to show that they did enough to make it, they're in. If not, they've failed and the NCAA Tournament Committee rules in favor of the field.

So, at this juncture, has Syracuse met its burden of proof? And if not, do they still have a chance to?

We can't necessarily know the first answer, but I'm tempted to say no based on recent play. On the second answer, yes, there's still a chance, if they're willing to take it. Beat Pitt, and you're assured of nothing, but it's still more than what you'd be assured of if you lost to the Panthers instead and ended the year at 19-13 and on a three-game losing streak. Beat Pitt and you might tip the scales just enough to meet that burden of proof, even if you end up losing to North Carolina in the next game.

Again, just like this case I was involved in: You don't need to prove anything beyond a shadow of a doubt. As a jury, we ruled in favor of the plaintiff. Did he prove anything beyond a shadow of a doubt? No. But did he prove enough? In our eyes, yes.


Now, Syracuse is still "in" if you take a look at the various bracketology projections today. CBS's Jerry Palm says they're a 10-seed, ESPN has them as a 9, just like they did last week. But that's where other teams' own respective burdens of proof show up. With a weird, weak bubble, conference tournaments could really cause seismic shifts from the 8-line down.

Should be an interesting week, for sure. Let's just hope it's more enjoyable for Orange fans than jury duty was for me...