The Syracuse Orange will host the Yale Bulldogs at 7:30 PM on Sunday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. No surprise there. The Orange is in the Newark, DE region along with Penn State and Towson.
The good news is that if Syracuse doesn’t one-goal the whole thing, it may have the easiest path to Championship Weekend. Compare that to first seed Maryland Terrapins which, assuming the Terps win its first round game, will take on the winner of North Carolina vs. Albany.
We have a couple of big surprises in this bracket. First, is Johns Hopkins with a sixth seed while Penn State is a seven seed and Albany the eighth seed. Both the Nittany Lions and Great Danes have a better RPI than the Jays. The difference maker for the Committee on Hopkins has to have been the head-to-head win over Penn State. Not a huge issue, but I though the Jays were more of a seven or eight seed.
The next surprise was how the Committee chose the seeded teams’ opponents. #3 OSU will play Patriot League Champion Loyola Greyhounds while #4 Notre Dame gets Marquette and #5 Denver will play Air Force. Keep in mind that the Committee choses opponents based on geographical consideration, so long as the integrity of the bracket is kept in tact. I cannot fathom why a higher seeded OSU drew a strong Loyola team instead of either Air Force or especially Marquette. Essentially, the Notre Dame/Denver region is a first-round bye region.
Finally, and this was brought up by the College Crosse guys in their live podcast which was a pretty entertaining event, Syracuse will be playing in Newark, DE instead of Hempstead, NY. Yes, the driving distance is about the same, but Syracuse is a New York school playing a team from Connecticut. Come on. Furthermore, neither of the New York schools are playing in the NY region.
Speaking of the other New York school, Albany will host the North Carolina Tar Heels in a Friday night game. The Heels are the hottest team coming into the Tournament and this matchup has the potential to be the game of the Tournament. Duke and Johns Hopkins will play on Saturday. Such a tough draw for the Jays, as I believe Duke will win that game.
Overall, I’m happy with the Syracuse region. UNC in our bracket would have been rough. Let me know what y’all think.