The 2013 NCAA Tournament bracket will be announced at 6 p.m. ET on CBS. The Syracuse Orange are expected to earn anywhere from a No. 3-5 seed -- a No. 4 seed is the safest bet -- and as the bracket comes out here's what SU fans should look for.
Who Syracuse needs to avoid
As we all know by now, anything will go in this year's NCAA Tournament.
This year, March Madness is expected to be the biggest crapshoot ever. So, more than ever the motto of, "survive and advance," is critical.
Yet, the biggest aspect that could decide Syracuse's NCAA fate is its draw in the bracket. When it comes out, Orange fans should cringe if they see these teams in SU's Region (and yes, some are obvious): Georgetown Hoyas, Louisville Cardinals, Wisconsin Badgers, Ohio St. Buckeyes, Miami Hurricanes, Saint Louis Billikens and Duke Blue Devils.
The good news: the selection committee will do its best to avoid repeat games from the regular season, which means, luckily, Louisville and Georgetown, two teams perfectly created to give SU fits, more than likely will not be opponents until the Final Four or Regional Final.
The Orange could also avoid Wisconsin and Ohio State because they played them in last year's NCAAs.
The Badgers, as we know from last season's Sweet 16 showdown, play a perfect brand of hoops to frustrate this SU team and are catching fire at the right time -- they play for a Big Ten Tournament Championship against the Buckeyes at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
Ohio State, led by guard Aaron Craft, could be a nightmare for Michael Carter-Williams and small forward Deshaun Thomas could shred the 2-3 zone. Despite some regular season struggles, this is a good Buckeye team that would be a bad match-up for the Orange.
The sneaky match-up that may pop-up in a No. 4-5 game -- if Syracuse gets a No. 4 seed (which I think they will) -- is Saint Louis. The Billikens are smart, very sound defensively and are well balanced. They have beat Butler three times this season and are playing Sunday for the Atlantic 10 Championship at 1 p.m. ET on CBS.
And then there is soon to be ACC friends Miami and Duke.
The Hurricanes could be this year's biggest bandwagon team, which may make SU fans believe they're ripe for an upset. A lot of college hoops fans will point out that Miami could be mentally weak and prone to bad games -- losses to Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Florida Gulf Coast are perfect examples -- but this team has the fire power to take it to the Orange.
In my opinion, I would like SU to avoid teams that can shoot the lights out and has the, "everyone doesn't believe in us," chip on its shoulder.
Another team I'd like Syracuse to avoid are well-coached ones that make good decisions and shoot the 3-pointer well. Georgetown and Wisconsin fall into the category, but Duke is elite when it comes to this quality.
The Blue Devils do not always have the best athletes on the floor, but they win because they're very smart (just 11 turnovers per game) and make shots (40-percent from behind the 3-point line).
Again, a lot of teams can knock out the Orange, especially if they go back to their poor-shooting ways, but no match-ups will scare me more than to see these teams in SU's future.
What Syracuse can look forward to
Call me crazy, and a lot of you do, but the NCAAs knack for calling games tight WILL help the Orange going forward.
If Saturday's Big East Tournament Championship Game proved anything it is that if opposing guards are allowed to hand check and maul Syracuse's guards, which allows them to get into the head of MCW and Brandon Triche, it will be a rough day.
The NCAA does not allow this as much, and it should help free up MCW and Triche a bit more.
Of course, the quick whistles could be issues for players like James Southerland, Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita.
Another aspect that Syracuse should look forward to is the 2-3 zone against non-conference opponents.
Unless it is a non-conference team that has played SU recently -- Ohio State or Wisconsin -- it is so hard to prepare for the 2-3 zone in a few days, or a day in some cases. Despite its shooting woes, Syracuse can play solid defense and that will keep them in a lot of NCAA games.
Finally, expect a few possible scenarios (as pointed out) Syracuse can match-up and ball with any team in the nation. Lets all remember, as easily has the Orange can get knocked out early, the Orange are just as able to upset somebody else. There are NO great teams out there, so why not us?
If the team in the BET shows up in the NCAA than Orange fans have nothing to worry about in the first few rounds.
Of course, that means if this team shows up. We all know, nothing is a giving with this squad, but from what we saw in the BET, besides the final 15 minutes against Louisville -- maybe the best team in the nation right now that, in my opinion, wore the emotion and legs out of the four-game-in-four-days Orange -- Syracuse is ready for March Madness.
Let the fun begin.