As has been the case the last few years, there’s a conversation around the Syracuse Orange’s status on the NCAA Tournament bubble right now. With just weeks to go in the regular season, SU’s a hot topic for professional and amateur bracketologists alike.
Yesterday, Hoya Suxa had a great breakdown of Syracuse’s potential resume, as well as what’s wrong with the selection process in general. While Suxa’s definitely someone who understands the Orange’s spot and what’s put them on the bubble, others are not as well-versed.
Enter Yahoo’s Brad Evans.
NCAAB teams with shockingly few Quadrant 1 wins: Rhode Island (1), Syracuse (1), USC (2), UCLA (2), Creighton (2), Wichita (2), Kentucky (2), Ohio St. (2), Michigan (2), Michigan St. (3), Arizona (3).— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) February 12, 2018
Evans noted that Syracuse and others had “shockingly few” Quadrant 1 wins. But as Suxa points out, there are ample opportunities to boost that figure in the coming weeks. Also, if SU had more, they wouldn’t be on the bubble anymore...
The Orange do have a sizeable number of Quadrant 2 wins, however. That’s not necessarily indicative of the toughest schedule thus far, but it shows they took some initiative in non-conference play and have faced some quality foes in the ACC already.
Not hilarious. It’s misinformed. A lot of ignorance and bias in that tweet. Syracuse has fewer Quadrant 4 games than most major programs. https://t.co/LGY7nVjW4h— Mike Waters (@MikeWatersSYR) February 13, 2018
That could’ve been the end... but of course, Evans was instead ready to double down on outdated opinions on Syracuse. He trotted out most of the hits, and did so in a single tweet:
- “Typically boasts a very weak non-conference slate”
- “Few chances taken outside of one annual neutral court tournament”
- “Hurt the Orange last year”
- “Will hurt it again”
- “Need more true road games”
Wrong. SU's non-conference schedule is similar to most major schools. I've done the analysis. SU's non-conference schedule is usually 100 to 120. That's about right. https://t.co/A86zGQMD4m— Mike Waters (@MikeWatersSYR) February 13, 2018
There was more still. Waters met Evans at every pass. For every lazy critique, there were easily researched data point which Mike was happy to provide.
- Yes, most power programs do the exact same thing
- Syracuse and Duke scheduled similarly this year
- SU DID schedule a road game this year
- Syracuse does NOT typically schedule poorly in non-conference
- And... mic (Mike?) drop
There isn’t one person here claiming that Syracuse is in without a doubt. And Mike isn’t either. If Evans is truly a “bracketologist” as his Twitter bio claims (and he does have Syracuse making the field in the latest iteration of his projections), then it shouldn’t surprise him that the Orange’s non-conference schedule has had nothing to do with its recent exclusions -- or its potential exclusion this year.
We know that it’s largely been about a lack of quality wins. Or in the case of last year, a couple really bad losses. Even this year, it’s the lack of major wins, but there’s ample opportunities for that going forward. Syracuse still faces Clemson, Duke, Miami and North Carolina down the home stretch. The “bad” losses are Wake Forest and Georgia Tech on the road. That’s not necessarily damning compared to the resumes of numerous other bubble hopefuls.
The most surprising part of all of this, though, really is how quickly and easy the lazy criticisms return. Syracuse’s resumes are never perfect. But as Mike points out, this has not been the case of late. The Orange have been on the road. They visit neutral sites. Sometimes those opponents are better than others (Kansas, UConn, South Carolina) in recent years. They’re still far from easy.
It’s also worth correcting Brad a bit here. No, neutral site games in New York City aren’t the MOST challenging things for Syracuse. But comparing SU’s trips to the Five Boroughs (four hours away) to Kansas’s trips to Kansas City (40 minutes) is far from reasonable. Alas, lazy narratives are lazy for a reason...
No point in dragging Brad even further. Just enjoy the tour de force of accurate information Mike tossed out there. And also, avoid picking a fight with Mike about Syracuse basketball. It seems very likely you’ll lose.