Stinks that Syracuse basketball won't dance this March, but the Madness will be fun

Syracuse basketball isn't going to play in the NCAA Tournament, but March Madness this spring is going to be totally wild.
Syracuse basketball isn't going to play in the NCAA Tournament, but March Madness this spring is going to be totally wild. / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse basketball won't hear its name called on Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year, which makes me sad for our beloved Orange.

The 'Cuse needed a deep run in this past week's ACC Tournament in Washington, D.C., to have any shot at reaching the 2024 Big Dance. Unfortunately, last Wednesday evening, the No. 7 seed Syracuse basketball ran into a supremely determined No. 10 seed N.C. State in the ACC Tournament's second round.

The Wolfpack used a massive second-half spurt to defeat the 'Cuse by 18 points, dashing the Orange's NCAA Tournament hopes. However, on Sunday night, the 'Cuse is expected to hear its name called for the upcoming NIT, and I contend that making a post-season event is a positive sign for Syracuse basketball under first-year head coach Adrian Autry.

The Orange won 20 regular-season games during the 2023-24 season, the first time that the 'Cuse has done this in a decade. To me, it's proven a highly successful term for Syracuse basketball.

While the Orange won't go dancing in the NCAA Tournament this spring, I'm proud of what the team has accomplished in 2023-24. What's more, over the next few weeks, the Big Dance is gonna prove a highly entertaining event.

As Syracuse basketball assumably plays in the NIT, the NCAA Tournament should be wild.

Like every other 'Cuse fan out there, I was bummed when the Orange fell to N.C. State in the ACC tourney's second round. At the same time, watching the Wolfpack go on a magical journey these last few days in our nation's capital conjured up some beautiful March Madness memories for me.

For one, N.C. State became just the second Division I squad to win five games in five days to capture a conference tournament title. The Wolfpack conquered Louisville, the 'Cuse, Duke, Virginia and then top-seeded North Carolina on Saturday night in the ACC Tournament title contest. That's insane.

I've obviously been a fan of Syracuse basketball for a long, long time. But I've also been a huge fan of the NCAA Tournament, and college basketball in general, for perhaps even further. One of the most glorious things ever in collegiate hoops is when N.C. State went on a ridiculous run in the ACC Tournament and the Big Dance to capture the 1983 national championship.

The Wolfpack, in 1983, was led by its charismatic head coach Jim Valvano, who forever will be remembered for frantically searching for someone to hug after N.C. State shocked Houston in the Big Dance championship affair.

Valvano, who sadly passed away a decade later, is an inspiration to us all, and I thought of him a lot on Saturday evening when N.C. State earned its automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament by stunning the Tar Heels.

The Wolfpack's shocking run in recent days in D.C. also led me to think of Connecticut and Kemba Walker, a group that in 2011 won five games in five days to win the Big East Conference Tournament, then rattled off six straight victories in the NCAA Tournament for an unbelievable 11-0 combined performance that culminated with a national chip.

Is this current N.C. State team going to win the 2024 Big Dance? Probably not. Then again, the Wolfpack just bested Duke and UNC. N.C. State will be a not-so-fun foe for others to face in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Speaking of the Big Dance, as the 68-team field is revealed on Sunday night, there are going to be some unhappy groups, and that could include some squads familiar to Syracuse basketball fans, such as Virginia, St. John's, Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, Providence and Wake Forest.

That's because N.C. State stole a bid. Oregon, as the No. 4 seed, upset top-seeded Arizona and then No. 3 seed Colorado to steal a bid by winning the final Pac-12 Conference tournament. The Atlantic 10 Conference tournament winner, which will either be the No. 5 seed VCU or the No. 6 seed Duquesne, is a bid-stealer.

The same holds true for the American Athletic Conference Tournament, with Sunday afternoon's final pitting the No. 4 seed UAB against the No. 11 seed Temple.

In the Mountain West Conference Tournament final affair, the No. 6 seed New Mexico may have also stolen a bid after defeating the No. 5 seed San Diego State to gain that league's automatic bid.

Beyond all these bid thieves, the so-called upper echelon of college basketball, save for defending national champions UConn, didn't fare so well during the conference tourneys, and that could foreshadow what should be a crazy NCAA Tournament.

As already noted, No. 1 seed North Carolina fell in the ACC Tournament. No. 1 seed Houston got absolutely destroyed by No. 2 seed Iowa State in the Big 12 Conference Tournament final. Top seeds Arizona and Tennessee were bounced early in the Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference tournaments, respectively.

In the semifinals of the Big Ten Conference Tournament on Saturday, No. 1 seed Purdue fell in a classic game to No. 5 seed Wisconsin, in overtime.

That meant of the six major conferences, only No. 1 seed Connecticut won its conference tournament, claiming the Big East crown by taking care of No. 3 seed Marquette.

ESPN's resident bracketologist, Joe Lunardi, wrote in part that it was "the most chaotic Selection Saturday in the 30-year history of Bracketology ... Defending champion UConn now stands alone as the top overall seed, and if what we just witnessed is any indication, the dominating Huskies might be entering an NCAA tournament like no other."

I'm sad that Syracuse basketball isn't dancing this March, but the Big Dance is still going to prove a ton of fun to follow.

dark. Next. Syracuse basketball 5-star, 4-star targets earn bids to national championship tourney. Syracuse basketball 5-star, 4-star targets earn bids to national championship tourney