Syracuse came into today’s ACC Tournament quarterfinal game in Brooklyn with a chance to solidify their spot in next week’s NCAA Tournament and take their name out of the dreaded bubble discussion. That did not happen, as the Orange lost a hard-fought battle to NCAA Tournament bound Miami, 62-57.
So now, like last year, Syracuse and coach Jim Boeheim must sit and wait impatiently for the NCAA Tournament selection committee to decide whether the Orange are worthy of a tournament bid.
Boeheim has been through this before, of course, and when asked by ESPN reporter Dana O’Neil about what he thought of his team’s NCAA Tournament prospects, he attempted to brush the question aside without answering.
“It doesn’t matter what I think,” Boeheim said in response to what he thought Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament chances were. “I expect the committee to make a decision,” he said sarcastically.
However, when pressed once more, he couldn’t help himself.
“The facts of the case, last year we had three good wins,” he started. “This year, we have three good wins, three teams in the top ten when we beat them. I see all the time on the bracketology thing, it says ‘Syracuse has six top fifty wins and so does [another] team.’ Well that team doesn’t have any wins against the top twenty.”
That’s a pretty good argument for someone who doesn’t think his opinion matters. Boeheim also had some thoughts on conference strength.
“[The ACC is] universally felt to be – I think by everybody – the number one conference in the country, we finished seventh,” he argued. “Other conferences are talking about getting sixty percent of their teams in the tournament. If we’re the best conference in the country, then we should get more than fifty percent in the tournament.”
Well then, I guess Boeheim does have a strong opinion on what the selection committee should do.
I tend to agree with Boeheim on this one. I think they should and will get in, but it will be close and they could end up in the First Four in Dayton. The Orange currently have an R.P.I. in the low 80’s. That would be the highest R.P.I. ever for an at-large. However, Syracuse is used to that, last year they had the highest R.P.I. ever for an at-large in the mid 60’s.
So, last year’s committee looked past the R.P.I. in Syracuse’s case and I predict they will do so again. It will be hard for the committee to look past the fact that Syracuse was above .500 in the nation’s best conference, like Boeheim argued. It will also be hard for the committee to look past the Orange’s wins over Duke, Florida State and Virginia, again, like Boeheim argued.
So, expect Syracuse to sneak into the 68-team field again this year, but Boeheim and company will be sweating on Selection Sunday. Maybe, just maybe, the committee was watching Boeheim’s reluctant (wink, wink) rant today.
Follow Jamal Murphy on Twitter: @Blacketologist