The Syracuse Orange finished its regular season and conference tournament with an overall record of 20-13 following its loss to North Carolina in the second round of the ACC Tournament. As you’re well aware of by now, Syracuse is firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble for the third straight year. While seemingly everyone with a twitter handle or microphone has an opinion on who to include and who not to include in the field of 68, it should be noted that nobody outside of the 10 member selection committee will have the final say.
Following the loss, Jim Boeheim presented his case for Syracuse’s inclusion into the 2018 big dance. We followed up with Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett on that front as well.
“Every coach in the country thinks his team is a tournament team, anybody thats anywhere near. As I said yesterday we’ve got the best strength of schedule we’ve had in years, 15, 20, both non-conference and conference. Our RPI was 42 going into today. With that RPI and SOS, that’s pretty good. Last year we didn’t win road games. (This year) we won at Miami, we won at Louisville. We won 4 or 5 road games. It’ll be close,” Jim Boeheim said.
Oshae struck a similar tone vis-á-vis Boeheim’s closing argument, stating that Syracuse has proven it can win at both home and on the road. For what it’s worth, the Orange are 2-2 on neutral sites with wins over Connecticut and Wake Forest and losses to two of the nation’s best teams in Kansas and North Carolina.
“We’re a hard fighting team, we never give up,” Oshae Brissett said. “It doesn’t matter who our opponent is we feel like we can go out there and win any game. We’ve shown that, whether we come back from deficits, whatever the case is, home or away we’ve won games.”
While playing hard in and of itself won’t be among the criteria in which the selection committee will make its decision, it has shined through in terms of Syracuse winning a few games it was considered an underdog in, viz., Miami and Louisville.
“We played hard all year. We won on the road. We had a great schedule,” Frank Howard said. “We had some up and downs, we traveled, you know, we met our challenges. That’s all we can ask to do. We lost guys, guys were injured. So I have a lot to say. I can vouch for my team but it’s not in my hands,” Howard said.
Regardless of what the committee decides, Syracuse truly has overachieved given the circumstances surrounding this team. The roster experienced a complete overhaul with Dajuan Coleman and Tyler Roberson graduating, Andrew White and John Gillon exhausting their eligibility and Tyler Lydon leaving for the NBA. Then Taurean Thompson transferred to Seton Hall just before the fall semester and fifth-year transfer Geno Thorpe followed suit in the Syracuse mass exodus not long after.
On top of that, freshman Howard Washington just seemed to be finding his groove when he went down with a season ending torn ACL. Matthew Moyer then had an awful high ankle sprain while Bourama Sidibe played through knee tendinitis and Paschal Chukwu recently developed knee problems in his own right. That’s not to mention the troika of Tyus Battle, Frank and Oshae logging 40 minutes in nearly every game.
“I’m proud of these dudes. I’m proud of myself, I’m proud of everybody in this locker room, the coaching staff as well. Coach put us all in great positions all year. All we can do is hope for Sunday. We played hard. In my opinion I think we deserve it,” Frank finished.
The coaching staff, the guys and the rest of us will continue to sweat this thing out until Sunday at 6 pm. Do keep in mind that CBS has changed its format this year and will be releasing all 68 teams within the first 10 minutes of the show.
In the interim do remember to breathe. Breathing is important. Also, here’s a video below to make you feel better.