The Syracuse Orange’s third straight loss certainly won’t make the NCAA Tournament road any easier, but according to one prognosticator, it actually moves them away from play-in game territory -- and toward a more favorable location.
With this morning’s bracketology update, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi now has SU as a 12-seed, facing the familiar Wisconsin Badgers in the first round. However, the game would be in nearby Buffalo, N.Y., a basic “home” game for the Orange. Syracuse lost to Wisconsin in Madison back in December, 77-60.
Last week, Lunardi had SU in a play-in game, lined up opposite (another team from Wisconsin) Marquette.
If Lunardi’s prediction were to come true, the Orange would actually benefit from moving down a line, in many ways. Wisconsin’s not an ideal opponent, but game location and not needing to play another game in order to get in both sound great. This also assumes there are no surprises in the conference tournaments, however. Being this close to the cut line means you have little wiggle room come Selection Sunday. SU is currently the fifth-to-last team in the field, according to Lunardi.
Should Syracuse play and beat Wisconsin, Lunardi’s bracket (the West region, in this case) would call for a slew of familiar opponents. Gonzaga, Dayton, Miami and West Virginia are all in that section of the bracket.
While a 12th seed would be the highest ever for Syracuse, it would not be the highest for a power conference team in the 64-, 65- or 68-team fields. Dating back to 2007 alone, nine different power conference teams have been seeded 12th -- and not all were slotted into play-in games. Mississippi State surprisingly won the 2009 SEC Tournament and ended up with a 13-seed. The year before that, Georgia earned the highest (lowest) seed of any power conference team, getting in with a no. 14 after their own shocking SEC Tournament victory.
Making it as a 12 wouldn’t be the most sensible route to the tourney for Syracuse, but it also wouldn’t be the worse one, either. With three games and conference tournaments still to go, however, this is far from locked in for the Orange (or any other team).