After a long awaited Selection Sunday, the Syracuse Orange
have earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament as an 11 seed. The appearance marks the 35th time that the Orange have made the big dance under legendary head coach Jim Boeheim.
How Syracuse Got Here
Before Sunday, there was much speculation into whether the Orange would qualify for the field of 68. Finishing at a record of 16-9, the Orange never managed to establish much consistency throughout the season. The program lacked in quad-1 wins, as they finished 1-7 against the top group of teams in college basketball. However, Syracuse managed to make up for it through a strong 16-2 record against quad 2, 3, and 4 teams. The Orange played close against multiple top-tier ACC teams as well, showing that they could at least compete with the best of the best.
As head coach Jim Boeheim stated before Selection Sunday, “Whether we get in the tournament or not, you never know. But just looking at the profile and watching us play, we should be in the tournament. I mean, I don’t want to discuss it really and look through everything, but we’ve got a really good team, I think.”
San Diego State Preview
The Orange will face the 6th seeded San Diego State Aztecs on Friday, March 19, for a chance to play in the round of 32. The Aztecs compiled a record of 23-4 on the season, finishing at 19th in this past week’s AP Top 25. Even more impressive, the school defeated the Utah State Aggies by a score of 68-57 to take home the Mountain West Conference Title. The win for the Aztecs marked the 5th conference tournament title in the school’s history, which qualifies as the most for any team within the Mountain West Conference. When push comes to shove, it’s safe to say that the Aztecs will be ready to play.
With that being said, Syracuse is no stranger to facing adversity in the NCAA Tournament. Look no further than 2016, a year when the Orange made an unprecedented run to the final four as a 10 seed. 2018 could be used as another example, as coach Boeheim led the 11th seeded Orange to a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
So, could Syracuse play the spoiler once again in 2021? It’s certainly possible. With Buddy Boeheim playing arguably the best basketball of his college career right now, the pieces could fall in place for the Orange. Of course, there’s a long way to go, but Orange fans should feel confident in the team that takes the court on Friday.
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