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Syracuse basketball’s schedule already looks plenty difficult

For those already worrying about the Orange’s 2018 NCAA Tournament hopes, trying to game the RPI system through a tougher schedule than already planned is a fool’s errand.

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

One of the many things that we know about the NCAA Basketball offseason is that people will “report” teams’ non-conference schedules. In the case of Syracuse, the most recent “report” is actually info we’ve known for awhile.

Ho-hum. Go about your day. Wait, what?

Well that’s an interesting thought. Let’s start gaming the system so that the team’s “meh” RPI from last year is better when we expect to have another “meh” team. Expect, no. Let’s not.

As Waters points out, the schedule is already shaping up to be a doozy. Kansas is going to be a top team in the country (pointless way too early 25s have them ranging from No. 11 to No. 3). Playing in D.C. and NYC against former Big East foes is important for our recruiting and alumni bases. Oh, and we’ve got a yet-to-be-announced ACC/B1G Challenge game that will probably be against a solid team, thanks to our #BRAND and ties to ESPN. Michigan seems like a great pick right now. (Seriously though, one more Wisconsin game and I’m going to scream.)

Plus, on that whole RPI thing: it’s not going to stick around forever. The NCAA Committee met with Ken Pomeroy and other prominent statisticians in the basketball world to discuss the very well known issues (and committee reliance) with RPI and most experts agree that the NCAA was receptive and will start including many more data points in their team sheets (statistical info given to committee that are publicly available).

Last year’s team finished 44th in Sagarin and 55th in KenPom as opposed to 84th in RPI. Yes, RPI hurt Syracuse, but these other data points that emphasize on-the-court basketball over where the court is will be in the committee’s hands now, in some form.

The bottom line is that next year’s team is going to need some help to build any kind of momentum toward some semblance of a cohesive and competitive team. We’ve already talked about how an “overseas” tour might not be the worst idea right now seeing that expectations aren’t the highest for this group. I don’t think adding any more tourney hopeful/in teams is going to help do this.

(Ed. note: That said, taking losses to good teams in college basketball — as opposed to college football -- could land you in the postseason as long as you also win a marquee game or two to offset them)

Ultimately, we’re only having this discussion because Syracuse missed the NCAA Tournament with what we knew was a talented team. They didn’t miss the tournament because they had a bottom-tier RPI, they missed it because they scheduled three non-conference games against comparable/lesser teams and lost all of them. They’ll have the same chance this year to take care of business. Let’s hope for our collective sanity that Boeheim and Co. do.