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Syracuse women’s basketball: the numbers that define the Orange’s slim March Madness odds

Here’s what to know about the Orange’s tournament chances heading into a bitter winter schedule.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It’s officially the make-it-or-break-it point for the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (13-7, 4-5) as the program hopes to sneak into the 2023 NCAA Tournament in head coach Felisha Legette-Jack’s first season.

To recap this season in a nutshell: it’s certainly been an up-and-down year so far. The Orange started off 4-0, recovered from two early road losses to Penn State and Purdue, and surged out to a 13-4 overall record, including a 4-2 mark against ACC opposition.

On the other hand, Syracuse has now dropped three-straight games, and although the team battled hard against tough opposition (The running list: #7 Notre Dame, #16 Duke, #20 NC State, and Louisville), closing out games and generating enough elite offense against the ACC powerhouses has been a struggle for the Orange (for context, Syracuse is averaging 82.5 points per game in its four ACC wins and 58.8 points per game in its five ACC loses, a margin of nearly 24 points).

With that said, the Orange were projected as a “Last Four Out” team in ESPN’s bracketology update as recently as last Monday (Jan. 16). Even with three-straight losses (including a heartbreaking flip against Georgia Tech, who’s 1-8 in conference play), Syracuse still has a puncher’s chance to at least finish as a borderline tourney team.

With just nine conference games left to go before the ACC Tournament, here are a few of the important numbers to keep in mind heading into this final regular season stretch for the Orange:

8: the projected number of ACC teams in the NCAA Tournament

I’m setting the unofficial over/under line at 8.5 for the number of ACC teams who will represent the conference in this year’s NCAA Tournament. The ACC is tied for first place with the SEC and Pac-12 for most programs (eight) projected to be in the final postseason bracket, with the ACC’s Virginia currently sitting as a “First Four Out” team.

A similar trend bore out last season, with eight ACC teams in last year’s tournament and a ninth program (Boston College) finishing as a “First Four Out” team.

Here is the projected seeding for all the ACC teams projected to reach the NCAA Tournament:

The ACC’s Projected Seeding for March Madness

Team Projected Seed NET Ranking Overall Record (Conference Record)
Team Projected Seed NET Ranking Overall Record (Conference Record)
Notre Dame 2 6 16-2 (7-1)
Duke 3 9 17-2 (7-1)
North Carolina 4 19 14-5 (5-3)
Virginia Tech 4 22 16-3 (6-3)
NC State 5 13 15-5 (5-4)
Florida State 5 15 18-4 (7-2)
Louisville 7 33 15-7 (6-3)
Miami 11 45 12-7 (5-3)
Virginia First Four Out 40 14-6 (3-6)

Long story short: Syracuse needs to finish at least eighth by the end of regular season conference play, which would mean...

6-3: Syracuse’s ACC record the rest of the way

One of two things needs to happen: either the Orange win six of its last nine games or finish around .500 in conference play capped off with an out-of-body performance in the 2023 ACC Tournament.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Florida State was the eighth and final ACC team to sneak into the NCAA Tournament with a 17–14 overall record (10–8 in conference play) with a big win over Boston College in the 2022 ACC Tournament. The Seminoles earned the #11 seed and a win-and-your-in game versus Missouri State.

4: number of ranked teams left in Syracuse’s schedule

There will be plenty of opportunities for the Orange to earn some resume-building wins during the rest of its schedule. I’ve already broken down Syracuse’s remaining (and difficult) schedule, but the Orange will end the regular season with games against #7 Notre Dame, #12 Virginia Tech, #15 North Carolina, and #24 Florida State.

On the bright side...

5: number of home games left for the Orange

Syracuse’s remaining home slate is surprisingly favorable given how brutal its final nine games are on paper. At home, Syracuse will play #15 North Carolina, Virginia (a must-win given the Cavaliers’ tournament projection right now), Louisville (a revenge game/superb resume-builder), and Boston College (just 3-6 in ACC play with four straight losses).

Syndication: Journal-Courier Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The bad news: three of Syracuse’s remaining four games are against the AP top-25 trio of Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, and Florida State (the fourth game is against Pittsburgh, who’s 0-8 in conference play).

An absolute best-case scenario for the Orange are wins against Virginia, Boson College, Pittsburgh, and Louisville with 1-2 additional victories against any of Syracuse’s ranked opposition.


0-5: The Orange’s record against top-50 NET programs

Syracuse’s NET ranking (66th) will probably end up in the mid-to-late fifties once you factor in the toughness of the Orange’s remaining slate. With that said, Syracuse has lost all three of its matchups against top-25 NET teams, with 10 of its wins against teams ranked 100+ in NET ranking.

The Orange will have a long shot to sneak into the tournament, but it is a shot.

But if Syracuse wants to hit that benchmark, it needs to steal a quality win or two.


Do you think Syracuse can make the NCAA Tournament? How confident are you feeling with the Orange?