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Beating Louisville is Syracuse’s key to getting back to the NCAA Tournament

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A big road win opens up the door for the Orange

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

No matter which metric you want to use, it’s clear that the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team has some work to do to enhance their NCAA Tournament resume. There are certainly a number of paths which could open up that at-large bid for Syracuse but it’s clear that winning at the Louisville Cardinals is the quickest way to get back into the bubble conversation.

A great resource this time of year is available at barttorvik.com. In addition to seeing some of Jim Boeheim’s favorite analytics you can use the Teamcast tool to project the remaining Syracuse games. Right now the Orange rank 55th in Torvik’s methodology which puts them in line with the 56th ranking on KenPom.com but lower than the NCAA NET which has Syracuse 52nd.

With five games left on the current schedule it looks like a 4-1 finish would put Syracuse in a strong position. Using the Teamcast tool and giving the Orange a win over the Cardinals would provide a Q1 win and put the team in position to play themselves comfortably into Indiana Madness provided they could win three of the final four. Torvik’s prediction model even shows a path for the Orange to move themselves all the way up to a 7th seed (!) if they win on Wednesday night.

It’s clear that Syracuse needs to find a way to at least a 3-2 record in these five games. Less than that, and there will need to be additional work done. Obviously there is a chance that Syracuse will get one more regular season game (a rematch at home with either Clemson or Louisville would probably be best here) added to the schedule, and we’re hopeful that the ACC Tournament will take place. But there is no guarantee right now and it’s a path the Orange don’t want to rely on based on the reality of college basketball in 2021.