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Syracuse men’s basketball ACC Tournament seeding possibilities

Of course, all that matters is winning. Still, it’s worth looking at where Syracuse could be seeded in Greensboro.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team did themselves a favor on Monday night, by knocking off the North Carolina Tar Heels. And while that’s a big positive in terms of the team’s NCAA Tournament chances, there’s still a long way to go.

This isn’t a discussion about the bubble, however. Rather, this is a discussion about where the Orange can finish in the ACC standings — which will have a direct impact on their NCAA Tournament chances, unless they manage to win the whole thing in Greensboro (which, please... let’s just do that).

First, as of Monday night, here’s where things sit:

  1. Florida State Seminoles (10-3)
  2. Virginia Cavaliers (12-4)
  3. Virginia Tech Hokies (9-4)
  4. Louisville Cardinals (8-4)
  5. Clemson Tigers (9-5)
  6. North Carolina Tar Heels (9-6)
  7. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9-6)
  8. Duke Blue Devils (9-7)
  9. Syracuse Orange (8-7)
  10. N.C. State Wolfpack (8-8)
  11. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-10)
  12. Pittsburgh Panthers (5-9)
  13. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-13)
  14. Boston College Eagles (2-9)
  15. Miami Hurricanes (3-15)

And here’s what needs to happen for the Orange to finish in various places. We made an attempt to write this post going into last weekend, but there were simply too many moving parts to make it even legible. Now, with several games out of the way, things are a little more straight-forward.

Given the uneven number of games, there are a lot of tiebreakers to wade through. Most notably, would tell you that North Carolina and Clemson both have the advantage on us if we all finish 9-7 — since both teams beat Florida State, despite us going 1-1 against each in that scenario. Also, Louisville can’t finish worse than 8-6, which would be slightly ahead of us by percentage points.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Clemson Andersen Independent Mail-USA TODAY NETWORK

7th Place

How they get there:

  • Beat Clemson, AND
  • Duke beats Georgia Tech, loses to UNC, AND
  • Georgia Tech loses to Wake Forest (and Duke)

Given how much Wake’s struggled and how the Yellow Jackets have been pretty hot of late, this is not the most likely scenario by far. Yet, it’s still mathematically possible that the Orange are able to vault over two teams that beat them last week. It also helps SU avoid the 8/9 game (which would almost certainly involve one of those two squads), and get a more favorable matchup with a team like NC State or Notre Dame, who Syracuse is a collective 3-0 against.

8th Place

How they get there:

  • Beat Clemson, AND
  • Duke beats Georgia Tech, loses to UNC, AND
  • Georgia Tech beats Wake Forest (and loses to Duke)

Pretty similar to the above, and also the more likely outcome. Georgia Tech will be favored to beat Wake and to lose to Duke. The Blue Devils may be favored to beat the Tar Heels, but it wouldn’t surprise to see them fall at Chapel Hill. This isn’t a great outcome since it sets up an 8/9 game with Syracuse facing the Blue Devils once more.

9th Place

How they get there:

  • Duke beats Georgia Tech and North Carolina, AND
  • Georgia Tech beats Wake Forest (and loses to Duke), AND
  • NC State goes 1-1 vs. Notre Dame and Virginia Tech

Duke collecting two consecutive wins jumps the Blue Devils up to fifth, knocks Georgia Tech to sixth and puts UNC in a 9-7 tiebreak situation with Syracuse if the Orange beat Clemson. As discussed, SU loses the tiebreaker to the Heels, so they’d drop to ninth. While that’s not the game we want to be in, it’s also not a bad setup to face the Heels again.

There’s also the simpler way of winding up in a tiebreaker with NC State and just winning that one

10th Place

How they get there:

  • Syracuse loses to Clemson, AND
  • NC State beats Notre Dame and Virginia Tech

This one actually doesn’t take much — if the Orange lose, they fall to 8-8 in the ACC, and could sit there alone if State wins the final two games. That would lift them up to 10-8, a full game over Syracuse in the standings despite the sweep of the Wolfpack. A 10-seed Syracuse would face Louisville or Georgia Tech as a 7-seed. Can’t say either situation’s ideal.


While all of these scenarios are rough, the 9-seed setup where the Orange face UNC seems like the best-case for us in terms of being able to win that initial game. Many of these foes would count as a Quad 1 win on a neutral floor, so ideally, we’re looking at who we can beat before moving on to the next round — when they’ll face a very good Virginia or FSU team.

Could two wins in Greensboro be enough? I’m not betting on it, though it would help the resume quite a bit — especially if they beat Clemson in the regular season finale.