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Syracuse women’s basketball: what you need to know about the Orange’s postseason outlook

There’s a legitimate chance Syracuse could be a top-four seed.

Louisville v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

The magic of year two in the Felisha Legette-Jack era showed itself once again after the #23 Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team reached the 20-win marker on Sunday after beating the #15 Louisville Cardinals 73-72.

As of Sunday night, Syracuse jumped up to second place in the ACC standings with a 20-4 overall record and 10-3 record versus the ACC. The Orange sit one game behind #16 Virginia Tech, who is currently in first place. Suddenly, a still-on-fire Syracuse team isn’t so worried about just making the NCAA Tournament alone — there’s a legitimate case the Orange might end up as a top-four seed come March.

(Writer’s note: remember the days when Syracuse was picked to finish ninth in the ACC during the preseason?)

With just five games to go until the ACC Tournament, let’s take another deep dive into the Orange’s current postseason resume and how that will impact the team’s NCAA Tournament seeding.

Syracuse’s win on Sunday over a ranked Cardinals team marked the fourth AP top-15 win for the Orange of this season. Previously, Syracuse had already beat #15 Florida State and completed the season sweep over a ranked Notre Dame team which ranked No. 13 and No. 15.

Without a doubt, expect the Orange to move up in the latest AP poll on Monday and ESPN’s latest bracketology update on Tuesday morning. The Orange currently sit as a projected five-seed in ESPN’s last bracketology update which was released on Friday.

Syracuse’s overall resume is looking as good as ever after Sunday’s win. The Orange sit at 5-4 overall versus Q1 teams (8-4 versus Q1/Q2) but remain undefeated versus Q2 (3-0), Q3 (5-0) and Q4 (7-0) programs. The Orange have also only lost by double-digits three times all season — Louisville by 12 points on the road, Virginia Tech by 13 points at home and North Carolina by 24 points (the Tar Heels game being the only real outlier in the wrong direction).

The Orange remain within the top-40 in the country in NET at No. 38, up two spots over the course of the past few days (and again, without factoring in that win over Louisville).

The rest of Syracuse’s regular season schedule remains all over the place. The Orange begin with back-to-back road games versus Miami (16-7, 6-6; projected nine-seed) and Virginia (12-12, 4-9). After that, Syracuse returns home for its final two regular season games in the JMA Wireless Dome versus Duke (16-7, 8-4; projected eight-seed) and Pittsburgh (7-18, 1-11). Syracuse will cap things off with a road game versus #3 NC State (21-3, 9-3; projected one-seed).

Syracuse’s remaining regular season schedule

Opponent Overall Record (Conference Record) NET NCAA Tournament? Q1 Record Q1/Q2 Record
Opponent Overall Record (Conference Record) NET NCAA Tournament? Q1 Record Q1/Q2 Record
Miami (16-7, 6-6) 37 Eight-seed 4-6 4-7
Virginia (12-12, 4-9) 66 N/A 2-8 4-9
Duke (16-7, 8-4) 22 Nine-seed 4-5 9-7
Pittsburgh (7-18, 1-11) 160 N/A 1-9 1-16
NC State (21-3, 9-3) 14 One-seed 6-3 14-3

On paper, Syracuse should have too much of an issue with either Virginia or Pitt. NC State is the only AP top 25 left on the Orange’s regular season slate, but Miami on the road and Duke at home categorize as two tough matchups with postseason-worthy teams.

Syracuse still has a chance to sneak back into first place in the ACC standings. Virginia Tech’s last five opponents are Duke, #15 Louisville, North Carolina, #12 Notre Dame and Virginia. Realistically, the hopeful goal is that the Orange can remain in the top-four and guarantee themselves a two-day bye for the ACC Tournament.

Looking ahead, mark your calendars for those games against Miami and Duke. Wins against both might push Syracuse into a top-16 overall playoff seed, while a split would make that ACC Tournament even more important.

The Orange have continued to amaze in year two of Legette-Jack’s tenure, and a season’s worth of outplaying preseason expectations has culminated in where Syracuse sits in the playoff race. Let’s see if Syracuse can finish out strong by season’s end.