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Has college basketball become Final Four-or-bust?

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It seems like falling short wipes away a lot of regular season accomplishments lately.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Syracuse vs North Carolina Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Watching the Elite Eight games over the weekend brought this question to mind as I saw and read many people who were quick to say that teams like the Duke Blue Devils or Gonzaga Bulldogs failed this year.

Throughout the last couple of seasons, I’ve noticed that Syracuse Orange fans seem to be pretty split over what matters more when evaluating a men’s basketball season. Do you want to see Syracuse finish higher in the ACC standings or is it more important to see the team go on a long(ish) NCAA Tournament run? It’s an interesting debate because as Orange fans we’ve lived both recently and we can see the positives for each.

When the Orange started the 2013-14 season 25-0 we watched a top-10 team ascend to the height of the polls in February and hold that spot for three weeks. We still celebrate Tyler Ennis’ buzzer-beater at Pitt to keep the streak alive. Then Syracuse finished the season 3-6, and after losing their first ACC Tournament game they bowed out to Dayton in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament when they failed to hit a 3. Did the failure to make a Sweet 16 negate the overall success?

Two years later Syracuse started 6-0 and after a tournament run in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving they jumped into the top 25. The Orange promptly dropped three of their next four games, started the ACC schedule with four straight losses and barely snuck into the NCAA Tournament. Of course after getting revenge on Dayton, the Orange got hot and rolled into the Final Four. Most of us seem to think that season ranks as a good one right?

So which was the better season? Does a single elimination tournament truly provide the context with which to measure success or do we look at the 31-plus games leading up to it? As we’ve watched the last seven years, the Orange have sputtered down the stretch so does that finish skew the way we look at the NCAA Tournament results?

These are questions that fans of the Houston Cougars or Tennessee Volunteers might be asking themselves this week. It’s what fans of the Virginia Cavaliers had to ask before this season and it’s what we want to know from you.

Poll

What do you define as a more successful season for Syracuse?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Regular season success with a top 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament
    (116 votes)
  • 56%
    Doesn’t matter what you do to get in the Tournament, get to the Sweet 16 and it’s all good
    (181 votes)
  • 7%
    Title or Nothing for me
    (23 votes)
320 votes total Vote Now

Please use the comments to expand on your selection.