Syracuse (sorta, maybe) got robbed?

DISCLAIMER: I go to Syracuse University. So, take the rest of this piece with that unavoidable grain of salt.

As the Big Ten and AAC Championship games finished up and CBS transitioned from Adam Zucker to Greg Gumble, Upstate NY held its breath. It looked like there were 69 teams for 68 spots. Iowa and Illinois hadn’t performed in the Big Ten Tournament, and Illinois State had been all but written off. It was down to Cuse, K-State, Providence, and USC for 3 spots. I was hopeful – I thought Cuse’s 6 top-50 wins would sneak them in despite their paltry road resume. (Narrator: They did not).

Rhode Island, the A-10’s 4 seed in the annual conference tournament, dodged a bullet when Davidson flew past Dayton in the quarters, saving the Rams from the top-seeded Flyers. In the ensuing semis, Rhode Island dismantled Davidson, to advance to the Final on Sunday against VCU. Rhode Island, who came into the weekend squarely on just about everyone’s bubble radar, escaped its ruthless wrath by skirting past Virginia Commonwealth and capturing the crown. Rhode Island, then, was awarded a mere 11 seed from the Committee, potentially indicating that had they not taken care of business in the Final, they might have found themselves on the wrong side of the bubble in place of Syracuse. I firmly believe Rhode Island stole Syracuse’s bid. Had the Rams faltered to their A-10 Ram counterpart on Sunday, Syracuse would be dancing.

Instead, Rhode Island prevailed, VCU snatched a well-deserved at-large, and Syracuse was left knocking at the door.

You’ll hear Syracuse fans say over the next 4 hours or so, “That’s BS we should have been in! 6 top-50 wins, beat Miami, Florida State, Duke, Wake Forest, and Virginia! No other teams on the bubble can say that! Oh, and we went 10-8 in debatably the best conference of all-time!”

And let it be known that none of that is wrong. Syracuse did do all of that. If you would have told me that Syracuse would go 10-8 in the ACC but miss the NCAA Tournament, I would have said you had just flown in from Stupidtown.

But, the Orange dropped games to Uconn, Georgetown, Boston College, AND St. John’s in the non-conference. Not only are they not tournament teams, those are programs whose names have been tagged as the laughingstocks of the Power-6.

Ok, ok, suppose you tell me that those games were a long time ago the Committee should consider how strong Syracuse looked at times throughout ACC play.

I leave you with this: Syracuse had a game last week in the round of 16 of the ACC Tournament. They played Miami. A win and they were in. Instead, they lost. The Committee’s lasting memory of the Orange was yet another instance of Cuse not being able to get a much-needed win away from the Dome. They had opportunities. Syracuse has no one to blame but themselves, whether it be for the forgettable defeats at the hands of some of the worst power-6 teams in the country, or for the inability to snatch a game in the ACC tournament against a quality opponent.

So, Syracuse fans are left in a tough spot. We know that Syracuse could have done more to earn their bid, but they didn’t. As their resume stood, there was still a strong, strong case for the Orange. The committee put Kansas State in the tournament (8-10 Big 12). But, they beat Baylor this weekend. USC slid in (10-8 Pac-12), but they took UCLA down to the wire in the PAC-12 quarters. Moreover, neither of those teams did anything utterly embarrassing over the course of the year. The lack of blemishes PLUS the ability to rise to the occasion in conference tournament play PLUS success away from home pushed them ahead of the Orange, despite Syracuse’s plethora of marquee victories.

The people complaining are either

  1. Syracuse homers
  2. People who value “good wins” over everything else

The Committee is clearly NOT comprised of

  1. Syracuse homers OR
  2. People who value “good wins” over everything else

Yes, it sucks that Syracuse didn’t get in. But, leaving your season up to a fickle group of humans because you didn’t take care of business isn’t exactly the best way to punch your ticket to the Dance. I don’t know if the Committee got it right, and neither do you. There are different trains of thought – neither of them are right. The committee just leaned toward the one that didn’t favor the Orange this year. It’s funny, remember what happened last year? Count your blessings.



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