If all hell breaks loose, the Syracuse Orange could still end up tying for the ACC regular season title.
This won’t happen, mind you. But it is mathematically possible. SU is 8-7 in league play, while North Carolina is at the top of the conference standings at 11-3. The strength of the ACC has kept the eight or so teams pretty tight throughout league play. It could also throw seeding into chaos in the next couple weeks.
The teams in front of them still have ample opportunities to lose multiple games:
North Carolina (11-3)
Home games against Louisville and Duke, plus road games at Virginia and Pittsburgh. They have a head-to-head advantage on Syracuse, so even if SU won out and UNC lost four straight, the Heels would still be the top-seed.
The Cardinals have UNC and Wake Forest on the road, and Syracuse and Notre Dame at home. If they lose all four (and SU wins their three remaining), Louisville would fall below the Orange. If they go 1-3 (with a win vs. North Carolina), the two would be tied at 11-7 apiece with a 1-1 record against one another. However, Louisville would still get a seeding advantage over both Syracuse and UNC. UNC, by way of head-to-head advantage. And SU by way of better record vs. next-best team (the Heels).
The only way Duke finishes below SU is if they go 0-4 (an SU goes 3-0), but that would also eliminate Syracuse from tie for the league lead, since it would include a loss to Carolina. If Duke goes 1-3 vs. the Orange, Miami, Florida State and the Heels, that ties them with SU. The Orange would get the advantage if they’re both 11-7.
Notre Dame (10-5)
The Irish face Georgia Tech, Boston College and Louisville. A 1-2 record (beating UL) would tie them with everybody above and SU at 11-7. They also own a head-to-head advantage on the Orange.
Florida State (9-5)
FSU lost the lone head-to-head matchup with Syracuse, so they’re at a slight disadvantage. They can go 2-2 over the final four to tie with the greater 11-7 group. It could happen by beating Duke and then going 1-2 vs. Boston College, Clemson and Miami.
UVA only has to lose one more time to fall into a tie with Syracuse at 11-7 (at best). It’s essential they beat UNC, however, for this 11-7 chaos theory to work.
The ‘Canes can’t join the 11-7 group because the rest of it wouldn’t work. However, they could fall below the Orange with little trouble. UM has three road games vs. Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida State, respectively. They also play at home vs. Duke.
The theory above — seven teams, including Syracuse, finishing 11-7 -- is still very much in play. An eighth, Virginia Tech, could easily join that group as well with a manageable four-game stretch to end the season (BC, Clemson, Miami, Wake).
That scenario would give the Orange a single bye in the ACC Tournament as a five-seed. If we’re not looking for an eight-way tie, Syracuse could go as high as third.
On the other end, SU could fall as far as 11th in the conference standings if they manage to lose their remaining games. That would mean a Tuesday opening-round matchup with the 14th seed.
There are some fun aspects to team chaos, but it also means Syracuse’s best wins take a hit (since those teams would have to take on more losses). Ideally, you want the scenario where the Orange grab the double bye, but... that situation also lacks some likelihood (though the result is the most positive).
Where do you think SU finishes, given their schedule and everyone else’s?