Now that the dust has settled on NBA Draft decisions, pundits are willing to take a renewed early look at the 2019 NCAA Tournament picture. Given that Tyus Battle will return to the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team, that means positive things for us.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi released his updated bracket on Tuesday afternoon, and it lists Syracuse as a No. 4 seed in the Midwest bracket -- the same region SU’s played in for the past two NCAA Tournaments (2018 and 2016).
Should Lunardi’s very early projection hold, the Orange would face No. 13 Stephen F. Austin in round one, then either No. 5 seed Butler or No. 12 Buffalo in round two. None of these opponents are unfamiliar to Syracuse. SU defeated SFA in round one back in 2009, and lost to Butler in the Sweet 16 in 2010 (woof). The Orange hosted Buffalo at the Carrier Dome this past season and will do so again this December. That makes a rematch in round two fairly unlikely, but not impossible.
Would Syracuse manage to get out of the early rounds in Tulsa, Okla., they’d move on to Kansas City, Mo. for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. Lunardi has Kansas as the top seed in the Midwest, with Louisville and Nebraska as the 8/9 game. It seems curious to place Syracuse out that way instead of projected 4-seed Kansas State, which Lunardi puts in the East bracket (running through Washington D.C.). If you switched the Orange out that way, they’d go from San Jose to D.C. — the same route they took to the Final Four in 2013 (though they’d likely also have to beat Duke this time around).
*Notably, regarding the hypothetical Duke situation, ends up the committee has actively kept to their rule of not placing teams from the same conference at the 1 and 4 spots, per Chris in the comments.
Lunardi’s picks put nine ACC squads in the Big Dance; by far the most of any one conference (SEC and Big Ten have five apiece). He’s also not the only prognosticator to make some choices, as CBS’s Jerry Palm did as well.
Palm seems Syracuse as a No. 5 seed playing in the East against a First Four opponent, which would be either Texas Tech or Nebraska. Don’t love the 5/12 or playing a First Four team. We saw the damage that can wreak for higher seeds last year when Syracuse ran to the second weekend.
Like Lunardi’s bracket, Palm’s would also have us facing Duke in D.C. if we could get to the Sweet 16. If the Orange were to beat the No. 12 seed, it would be Oregon or UNC-Greensboro next. One would think that if SU faces the Ducks at MSG this November (which they very well could), that wold be avoided. The obvious comedy of Jim Boeheim potentially facing Greensboro would be too much for the committee to pass up, though.
Agree with the seeding? Think we should be higher/lower? Don’t care because we haven’t even finished compiling the 2018-19 schedule yet? Share your thoughts below.