The Syracuse Orange have made the NCAA tournament, this time as an 11-seed after a final week of the season that saw them defeat N.C. State, almost defeat Virginia, and watched many other bubble teams drop off to make room for ‘Cuse outside the First Four. When the Orange take on the San Diego State Aztecs, it will be just the 3rd time ‘Cuse is a double digit seed in the NCAA Tourney.
A stat that will 100% be used in discussions that has nothing to do with this weekend’s games, but we will hear about a bunch next year, is that the Orange had never been a double digit seed before 2016.
Both (now three) of the Orange’s double-digit seeds to-date have taken place in the last five years. In 2016, the Orange were a No. 10 seed who made the Final Four (as you’re certainly aware of). And in 2018, No. 11 seed Syracuse made the Sweet 16.
Based on the above, the lesser-than-normal seeding hasn’t stopped ‘Cuse from experiencing some postseason success of late.
The above graph paints the interesting picture of recent Syracuse as a would-be giant killer, yet only about a third of the upsets above happened over the last five or six years.
Somewhat surprisingly, only four “upsets” by NCAA seeding have taken place since SU was first a double-digit seed. For context, three took place during the Orange’s National Title run in 2003, because that No. 3 seed had to defeat two No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 seed en route to the title. The remaining six upsets — all one-offs save the 2013 run:
- 1987 (#2 defeating #1 North Carolina Tar Heels)
- 1996 (#4 defeating #2 Kansas Jayhawks)
- 1998 (#5 defeating #4 New Mexico Lobos)
- 2004 (#5 defeating #4 Maryland Terrapins)
- 2013 (#4 defeating #1 Indiana Hoosiers)
- 2013 (#4 defeating #3 Marquette Golden Eagles)
I do find it interesting that almost every ‘Cuse “run” requires some upsets, and deeper runs require some lucky matchups that pits the Orange against inferior opponents later in the tournament. And sometimes, “upsets” are just a good team being under-seeded beating other solid teams.
It’s the NCAA Tournament; chaos is going to happen and we just need to enjoy the ride. The Orange don’t always need to be a double-digit seed to be the beneficiary. But if they want to continue their recent run of double-digit seed success (they’re 7-2 as a double-digit seed so far), they’ll be pulling off at least one more upset vs. sixth-seeded San Diego State.