While Syracuse’s last trip to Salt Lake City ended poorly, to say the least (thanks, Butler...), the Orange have actually done pretty well in the West Region overall — and the state of Utah, too.
Starting off in Utah: SU’s 3-1 all-time in the state, with the lone loss being the aforementioned Sweet 16 defeat back in 2010. Before that, the Orange had won every game to-date. Two of those were early round games in the 1996 NCAA Tournament, when Syracuse beat Hawaii and UW-Green Bay. The other was a 1968 game at BYU, which SU won 77-73.
But shifting focus more to the West Region, Syracuse actually carries a pretty impressive amount of success. In the rare instances where the Orange get tossed over to the other side of the country, they’re a strong 10-3 over four different placements — 2010, 2004, 1996 and 1994. They’ve made it to the Sweet 16 in each of those trips, and won the region once (1996).
Those results, for those that want to stroll down memory lane:
- Sweet 16 (Salt Lake City): 63-59 loss to (5) Butler
- Second Round (Buffalo): 87-65 win over (8) Gonzaga
- First Round (Buffalo): 79-56 win over (16) Vermont
- Sweet 16 (Phoenix): 80-71 loss to (8) Alabama
- Second Round (Denver): 72-70 win over (4) Maryland
- First Round (Denver): 80-75 win over (12) BYU
- Elite 8 (Denver): 60-57 win over (2) Kansas
- Sweet 16 (Denver): 83-81 win over (8) Georgia
- Second Round (Albuquerque): 69-58 win over (12) Drexel
- First Round (Albuquerque): 88-55 win over (13) Montana State
- Sweet 16 (Los Angeles): 98-88 loss to (1) Missouri
- Second Round (Ogden, Utah): 64-59 win over (12) UW-Green Bay
- First Round (Ogden, Utah): 92-78 win over (13) Hawaii
Some of those paths are tougher than others, but none forced Syracuse to go through the sort of run they’ll need to just to get to the Sweet 16 (a win over a 9- and likely 1-seed here). Baylor’s also not on the list above, though Gonzaga — SU’s potential second round opponent — is, from back in 2010.
Does this guarantee Syracuse is getting to at least the Sweet 16 this time around? No. Can we definitely make it happen, though? Sure. The West Region has been kind to us before, and maybe it will again. There are believers around the country in the Orange’s upset potential too. So yeah, let’s keep this trend going and just beat Baylor and the Zags.