The case for ‘Cuse as a #1 seed
Allow me to digress from politics for a bit to talk about College Basketball. I am a huge fan and as you can see from this photo my house roots for the Syracuse Orange. (I hope that doesn’t lose me some readers here in the heart of ACC country.) Although I did not graduate from SU (I am a proud alum of the College at Brockport), my wife Karey did and I have been a fan my entire life. Now that my loyalties have been clearly defined, allow me to make a reasonable case that, provided they beat Louisville tonight, they should receive a number one seed in the NCAA tournament.
Follow my logic: Prior to the start of the conference tournaments, based on regular season performances, pundits were predicting three possible number one seeds coming from the Big East. (Pittsburgh, UConn and Louisville). Three may have been a stretch, but I am not sure you can completely eliminate a Big East team based just on the losses in the Big East Tournament. The Big East was consistently the most competitive and deep conference in America. It is hard to say Pitt and UConn deserve number one seeds after being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the tournament and if Louisville loses tonight, you are left with Syracuse. Not to mention, that despite a few regular season losses in the rough and tumble Big East (which all of the aforementioned teams have) by winning tonight, Syracuse will have beat two of the the three potential one seeds in the conference, and they will have done so on the biggest stage.
I have much more after the jump..
But their performance in the Big East is only part of the story. Syracuse has also established themselves as a feared non-conference opponent. The Orange have victories (away from the Dome) against Kansas in Kansas City and Memphis in Memphis. By the way Memphis is probably on the way to a #1 seed themselves. For good measure they beat Virginia at home and Florida at a neutral site when the Gators were a top 20 team.
The biggest check mark against Syracuse is their 8 losses which would be high for a number one seed, however I believe that all those losses prove is how unbelievably difficult their schedule was. (Something Jim Boeheim clearly fixed after years of being accused of taking on a cupcake schedule outside the conference). Of the 8 teams SU lost to, only 2 came against teams that won’t go to the tournament (Georgetown and Providence). Their loss to Georgetown was on the road and at a time with the Hoyas were much better and they beat them when G-town came to Central New York. Providence showed periods of brilliance at times in the season and SU was one of a number of top 25 teams the Friars took out.
Syracuse matches up well against all potential number one seeds. Michigan State has clearly separated themselves as the class of the Big 10. Each one of their losses (except maybe Northwestern) came against quality opponents. North Carolina will be a one seed, but they have a terrible loss to Boston College and I believe their non-conference schedule is weaker than Syracuse. Memphis lost to Georgetown and oh yeah Syracuse plus their conference schedule is a joke.
So who is left? Well if Louisville wins tonight they are in, but if they don’t, how can you ignore their losses to UNLV, Minnesota and Western Kentucky? Oklahoma struggled down the stretch and they lost to Kansas, who SU beat. That leaves Duke or Kansas. I think I have mentioned that Syracuse beat Kansas in Kansas City. Duke which if they win the ACC will be a one seed, but also lost to Michigan and Boston College.
I fear that the strong Big East will be the victim of its own success. I think a combination of ACC bias and Syracuse’s 8 losses will be too much for the Orange to overcome. However I don’t think you can ignore finishing the season with 7 wins (8 if they are successful tonight) plus beating the quality opponents that they have and in the fashion which they have done so.
If they win tonight, Syracuse should be a number one seed.