For the second straight year, the NCAA Selection Committee got together early to release a public top 16 seeded teams a month ahead of Selection Sunday. While some may say this is a publicity stunt to garner early hype for March Madness (it is), this early list was actually very informative last year; In Monday’s Eye on College Basketball Podcast, Gary Parrish mentions that 15 of the 16 teams stayed in that top grouping with only Virginia dropping out.
If you haven’t read Hoya Suxa’s post on Syracuse’s team sheet yet, DO IT. I’ll wait.
You back? Great. As he points out, Syracuse’s team sheet will look something like this and then be visually represented to the committee as something like this. So how does the first 16 play into all of this?
As Parrish and Matt Norlander mention in the above linked podcast, the committee doesn’t seem to be valuing losses as much as they do wins and strength of schedule. Oklahoma and Arizona are good teams, but they’ve lost a lot of questionable games both in and out of conference. Though both have been names mentioned A LOT nationally this year due to star players. Furthermore, these teams rank 21st and 18th in RPI respectively, while KenPom has them at 31st and 23rd. Meanwhile, Gonzaga has a better KenPom and record, but just got their first Marquee win versus St. Mary’s this past weekend.
So what does this all mean for Syracuse? Let’s start with some basics. Right now, Syracuse is 39th in RPI and 46th in KenPom. Those are both solid inside the bubble numbers in most years.
More importantly, looking at the Orange schedule down the stretch, we know that three wins to get to 9-9 is ideal, and that means beating one of UNC, Duke, Miami or Clemson. All of these games will be Quadrant 1 games, which would be huge for padding ‘Cuse’s win résumé.
Right now, ‘Cuse doesn’t have a horrible loss or a huge win on their team sheet. A high RPI plus .500 in conference will more than likely be enough for a First Four spot, but the Committee is looking for big wins. The “easiest,” plan of attack? Win Wednesday, beat BC on the road, and then knock off UNC or Clemson at the Dome.