Bracketology gives Syracuse basketball chance to beat IU, avenge 1987

Syracuse basketball is one of nine ACC teams that make the latest mock field of 68 from ESPN’s resident bracketologist, Joe Lunardi.

Syracuse basketball players are soon returning to the Hill, Jim Boeheim is 100 percent coaching this upcoming term, and the Orange will likely reside on the proverbial March Madness bubble throughout 2020-21.

On the plus side, the ‘Cuse returns four starters from a season ago, its relatively inexperienced roster is a year older, and Syracuse possesses a strong 2020 recruiting class.

In the negative department, former star forward Elijah Hughes, who led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring during the last stanza, has opted to forgo his remaining eligibility to turn pro.

Should Illinois transfer Alan Griffin, a rising junior wing, receive an NCAA waiver to immediately compete, I believe that the Orange will contend for a top-six spot in the ACC as well as an invite to the Big Dance.

The bracketologist that ‘Cuse Nation seems to always have beefs with, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, updated his projected field of 68 earlier this week, and Syracuse has moved on up!

Last time around, Lunardi slotted the Orange as a No. 11 seed and First Four participant, playing former Big East Conference rival Seton Hall, with the victor then taking on No. 6 seed Michigan.

This go-round, Lunardi has given the ‘Cuse one of his last four byes. Still a No. 11 seed, Syracuse is matched up with another Big Ten Conference crew, No. 6 seed Indiana.

The Hoosiers, as we all know, claimed the 1987 NCAA championship on a last-second shot to deprive Boeheim & Co. of what would have proven the Orange’s first national title (thank gosh for 2003).

At least the ‘Cuse got some sweet revenge, in part, when fourth-seeded Syracuse upset No. 1 seed Indiana in the 2013 Sweet 16 in Washington, D.C. The Orange would go on to the Final Four that year, where it would lose in the national semi-finals to Michigan.

The latest mock field from ESPN’s resident bracketologist includes Syracuse and eight other ACC groups.

In Lunardi’s bracketology, the ‘Cuse is in the South Region, where the top-four seeds, in order, are Baylor, Michigan State, Creighton and Tennessee.

His four No. 1 seeds are the aforementioned Baylor, Virginia, Villanova and Gonzaga.

The ACC is tied with the Big Ten at nine bids each. Those nine berths go to No. 1 seed Virginia, No. 2 seed Duke, No. 5 seed North Carolina, No. 5 seed Louisville, No. 5 seed Florida State, No. 8 seed Miami, and No. 11 seeds Syracuse, Clemson, and Virginia Tech.

The Hokies and the Tigers are arranged in the First Four. Undoubtedly, the ACC will have more of its squads in the next NCAA Tournament than it would have gotten in this past spring, before March Madness was canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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