Syracuse Basketball: Tourney matters most, Big Ten ‘sucked,’ per Boeheim

Syracuse basketball, Boeheim (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Syracuse basketball, Boeheim (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

I’ve been saying it for years – you’re going to miss Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim when he’s gone.

Sure, some Orange hoops fanatics wish that Boeheim has already hung up his whistle, but I’m not in that camp. Boeheim, in a few weeks, will roam the sidelines for the 47th year as the ‘Cuse head coach.

When he retires, and who will replace him, is a heated discussion point among Syracuse basketball fans. For now, though, Boeheim is ready to rebound from a 16-17 mark a stanza ago, with a 2022-23 roster that blends several veterans with a lot of underclassmen.

And even though the upcoming campaign isn’t quite here yet, Boeheim is already in midseason form, as it pertains to his candid commentary.

Syracuse basketball boss Jim Boeheim recently threw some shade at the Big Ten.

At the Orange’s recent media day, according to media reports, Boeheim discussed how the most important thing is playing in the NCAA Tournament – and winning, too.

His argument here is simple. Having success in the Big Dance outweighs regular-season success, and I wholeheartedly agree with Boeheim’s assertion.

Naturally, winning a lot of games in both the regular season and the post-season is ideal, but if Boeheim had to choose one, he would pick going far in March Madness. I would as well.

From 2009 until 2014, while a member of the Big East Conference and then the Atlantic Coast Conference starting with the 2013-14 term, Syracuse basketball was strong in regular seasons and the NCAA Tournament.

As such, in those campaigns, the Orange earned a No. 3 seed, a No. 1 seed, a No. 3 seed, a No. 1 seed, a No. 4 seed, and a No. 3 seed. So clearly the ‘Cuse did well in regular terms.

The Orange went to the Sweet 16, the Sweet 16, the round of 32, the Elite Eight, the Final Four, and the round of 32. That’s solid NCAA Tournament showings as well.

Since that time, Syracuse basketball hasn’t done as well in regular seasons. But the ‘Cuse has managed to reach the Final Four in 2016, the Sweet 16 in 2018, and the Sweet 16 in 2021.

I’d much rather the Orange slog through the regular stanza and then win a few games in March as a double-digit seed to get to the second weekend of the Big Dance, versus the ‘Cuse being better in the regular season and flaming out in the NCAA Tournament.

We all want Syracuse basketball to perform at a high level in both parts of the team’s respective seasons. But to reiterate, I’ll choose tourney success over regular-stanza success.

Boeheim, apparently, would as well. “I’ll take the Sweet 16 if we finish [sixth in the ACC] overall,” he said at the Orange’s media day, per an article from Myron Medcalf of ESPN. “Would I like to do better in the regular season and [reach the Sweet 16]? Sure. But I’ll take that every year. We’ve been very good in the tournament.”

Now, in the 2022 NCAA Tournament this past spring, the ACC had five bids, and obviously, Syracuse basketball didn’t get one. But Miami journeyed to the Elite Eight, Duke advanced to the Final Four, and North Carolina went to the championship game, where it fell to Kansas.

The rugged Big Ten Conference, meanwhile, landed nine tourney invites, but none of its members made it past the Sweet 16. The Big Ten hasn’t cut down the nets since Michigan State captured the national title in 2000.

"“At the end of the day, you play for the [NCAA] Tournament,” Boeheim said. “You can say what you want about the Big Ten. They sucked in the tournament. To me, that’s what they did. All of their wins were in their league. If you can’t play in the [NCAA] Tournament, then you’re not good.”"

Do I find it a little ironic that Boeheim is criticizing the Big Ten, when his own team didn’t even get into the Big Dance? I do. But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

While Kansas won the whole darn thing, the ACC compiled an impressive 14-5 record in the 2022 March Madness, making it the “best league,” Boeheim said.

I do yearn for the day when, yet again, Syracuse basketball is strong in both regular seasons and Big Dances. Looking ahead to 2022-23, even if the Orange is so-so in its regular campaign, I’ll consider the ‘Cuse to have had a successful term if the squad makes it to March Madness and does some real damage while it’s there.

Next. Syracuse Basketball: Projected starting rotation 2.0 for the 2022-23 season. dark