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The case for Syracuse: Should the Orange get an invite to the 2021 NCAA Tournament?

syracuse jim boeheim
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

That Syracuse team that lost to ACC regular-season champ Virginia at the buzzer on Thursday is obviously an NCAA Tournament.

I mean, it is obvious. Isn’t it?

“We’ve done everything we can do, and I think if you watched us play today, and you don’t think we’re a tournament team, or watched us yesterday — I mean, we’re a good team. There’s no doubt in my mind, and I don’t think anybody’s mind, that follows the sport and knows what they’re doing,” ‘Cuse coach Jim Boeheim said after his team’s heartbreaking 72-69 loss in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.

A win, and Syracuse (16-9) is, without question, in, no matter what would have happened from here on out.

Parsing it out, the Orange have an average rating among NET, KenPom, BPI, KPI and Sagarin at 40.6.

That represents improvement from where they were just a couple of days ago. When the ACC Tournament tipped off on Tuesday, we had them at 46.4.

That ranked eighth among the 10 ACC teams whose profiles we’d analyzed on the eve of the ACC Tournament.

Today: they’re sixth, having, for the moment, leapfrogged Louisville (which went from 46.0 to 50.6 after its loss to Duke on Wednesday) and Virginia Tech (which was at 42.2 on Tuesday, and is at 43.0 right now, hours, at this writing, before its tip against UNC tonight).

It undoubtedly hurts that Syracuse didn’t get the win over UVA, which dropped ‘Cuse to 1-7 in Quad 1 games.

But isn’t something to eye test that should apply here?

Syracuse, in March, has wins over North Carolina (average rating: 29.4) and Clemson (average rating: 34.6), and the narrow loss to Virginia.

All three are NCAA Tournament locks.

You go 2-1, the one being a buzzer-beater loss, against NCAA Tournament teams, you’re an NCAA Tournament team, right?

“You know, our league is, I believe it’s better than people think. I really do,” UVA coach Tony Bennett said, making the case. “I think you battle and you play, and you want your league to get as many opportunities. And they’re a team that, as you can see, what they did to N.C. State, who’s been playing good basketball, yesterday, and if you’re not accustomed to playing against that kind of zone, they’re such a talented team, and they’re a dangerous team with their system.

“Coach Boeheim would fight for us, so we’ll fight for him. Get him in,” Bennett said. “I know him. He’s that way. I don’t know the numbers and all that stuff. I just know they fought and they played close games and good basketball.”

Boeheim, actually, does a good job knowing the numbers and all that stuff. Something about living on the bubble the past several years has him talking bracketology as well as anybody.

“We’ve had to play all of our Quad 1 games on the road or neutral here today, and all the 2s and 3s we’ve beaten,” Boeheim said. “I think we’re 12 or 13 and 2 against Quadrant 2 and 2. We’ve only had like two games in Quadrant 4. A lot of teams in this thing have got 10, 12 games in that quadrant. I think we’ve got a good team. I think we’ve proven we’re a good team and certainly belong in the tournament.”

Story by Chris Graham


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