Syracuse basketball is on a roll and sneaking their way into NCAA Tournament discussions. Here’s why they may need some help to get there.
Syracuse basketball is on a roll and tied for fourth in the ACC. Normally that would be a sure lock in the NCAA but the 2019-20 season is setting up chaos throughout the nation.
Joe Lunardi released an update to his Backetology on January 24 and who looked like a typo was, in fact, the reality of this season, the ACC only has four teams in.
Those four teams Lunardi currently have in are Louisville, Florida State, Duke, and North Carolina State. The first three seem to be absolute locks for the NCAA field with all being projected as top three seeds.
North Carolina State coming in as an 11-seed puts them squarely on the bubble as Lunardi has them as his last bye from the First Four. This means that only three ACC teams getting in a year after they had seven bids including two one seeds and the eventual National Champions is quite real.
How can Syracuse prevent this from happening?
Well, win games obviously. They have plenty of chances to win games that will elevate their resume. As of January 24, the Orange have four games that fall under either Quadrant 1 or Quadrant 2 distinctions.
Five of the eight are scheduled road games including at Louisville and Florida State. While Syracuse is currently on top of the world they can’t expect they’ll win every game left on the docket. They will drop some and while at Florida State and Louisville will offer two exceptional wins a split is what Syracuse needs to aim for.
Syracuse has only played Virginia Tech of the teams that have a winning record in the conference. They need to add to this with a home game against North Carolina State in mid-February.
For that to happen the Wolfpack will need to keep their resume unblemished. That means not allowing slip-ups in games against North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Miami and maybe picking up a marquee win with a home contest with Lousiville on February 1.
Syracuse adding future wins against teams to boost their resume is not the only way to help the Orange out. How about teams that they have already beaten potentially moving up in the NCAA Nets ranking. There are two real candidates that can help out the Orange with Syracuse also able to return the favor.
An in-conference pack that could make unlikely bedfellows with Syracuse both call Virginia home. The Cavaliers and Hokies are both right in the mix for an NCAA Tournament bid but currently looking outside in. The Hokies are 5-and-3 while Virginia is 4-and-4 after that three-game skid in ACC play.
Virginia and Virginia Tech both have Louisville, Florida State, and Duke remaining on their schedule. The goals for both Virginia teams and Syracuse is to clean up as much as you can in conference outside of the big three and take as many of those three as possible.
The best way to cement these teams together is if Virginia Tech can split with the Cavaliers. Then all three teams would have split on the season with each other pairing them together. If they can begin to knock off games and hold on around the fourth seed in the ACC Tournament any big win will help each other. The problem is; any loss will also drag down each other.
All three will need at least 20 wins by the time of the ACC Tournament to really change odds in becoming an At-Large bid in the NCAA Tournament. Syracuse will have the most work to do adding nine more wins to their current four-game stretch. Possible, but still a long shot.