The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team’s chances to impress the NCAA selection committee may be over after losing to Miami in the second round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday, but there is still plenty much at stake for the Orange in Champ Week play.
At 18-14, Syracuse finds itself squarely on the bubble. With no more games on the schedule, its best hope is for other bubble teams to suffer similar early exits from their respective conference tournaments.
Here are the teams you should root for, because they may be able to grant Syracuse that exact wish.
While former Syracuse guard Kaleb Joseph may not be playing (he’s forced to sit out this season due to transfer rules), Orange fans should still send their former favorite point guard a gift basket and some flowers just in case. Creighton (23-8) can help Syracuse out by beating fellow bubble team Providence (20-11) tonight, as the Orange can’t afford the Friers to earn another top-50 win.
Baylor (25-6) plays Kansas State (19-12) tonight in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament. The Wildcats are currently projected right near Syracuse on the bubble. Similar to Providence’s situation, while a loss to No. 9 Baylor wouldn’t cause any significant damage to Kansas State’s resume, a win over the Bears would certainly lead to some separation between the Wildcats and the Orange.
Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies (16-14) are set to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (17-14) tonight, which means it’s time to break out your Johnny Manziel Texas A&M jerseys. Vanderbilt boasts a similar resume to Syracuse in terms of strong conference wins, but lacking quality out-of-conference victories. A loss to the Aggies would almost surely keep Vanderbilt out of the NCAA Tournament, resulting in one less bubble team for Syracuse to be compared to against.
Utah (20-10) will take on California (20-11) in the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament. The Utes previously clobbered the Golden Bears 74-44 just one week ago. A similar outcome would put a severe dent in California’s resume. If Syracuse fans are worried a win may booster Utah’s tournament chances, don’t be. The Utes have zero quality wins and sport just the No. 119 strength of schedule.
Orange fans who are still upset about Syracuse’s 2013 Final Four matchup against Michigan (20-11) will have to put their hurt feelings aside, as Michigan can help the Orange out by taking down Illinois (17-13) this afternoon. The Fighting Illini may have the No. 20 strength of schedule, but are just 3-8 against teams in the top 50 RPI. As of yesterday, Illinois is currently listed as one of the first four teams out, along with Syracuse and Vanderbilt, in CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm’s bracket.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Do you believe in miracles? Syracuse fans may have to, as the Orange are forced to root for woeful Penn State (15-17) in the Nittany Lions’s matchup against Michigan State this afternoon. The Spartans (18-13) are just outside the bubble and need to make a run in the Big Ten tournament to work its way back into conversation. A loss to Penn State, however, would nix that immediately.
No. 21 Virginia (22-9) isn't schedule to play a team on the bubble – the Cavaliers will play No. 22 Notre Dame (23-8) – but Syracuse can still benefit from Virginia’s success. If the Cavaliers are able to go on a run in the ACC Tournament, and potentially even win the ACC Championship, it would greatly boost Syracuse’s regular season win over Virginia, and thus improve the Orange’s resume as a whole.
Are there any other teams you think Syracuse fans need to root for? Give your explanation and let us know in the comments section below.