The Path for Syracuse to the NCAA Tournament



CHARLOTTE, NC – MARCH 16: The Virginia Cavaliers tip off against the UMBC Retrievers in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 16, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)


On Tuesday night the Orange lost a crucial ACC matchup to NC State 79-74. With the loss, the Orange are now 14-10 and 7-6 in ACC play. The loss to the Wolfpack took a big hit to Syracuse’s NCAA tournament hopes. While all hope isn’t lost for the Orange, their path becomes that more difficult. The Orange as of Tuesday were 67th in the NET rankings. The Orange are expected to go down in the updated NET rankings which makes things go from bad to worse for the Orange. But before we hit the panic button, let’s look at the remaining schedule for the Orange and see if there is still a chance.

Remaining Schedule

February 15th @ No.8 Florida State (14th in NET Ranking)

February 19th @ No.5 Louisville (7th in NET Ranking)

This is where the Orange can get themselves back in the NCAA conversation. Two straight roads games against Top 10 teams and both who are in the Top 15 of the NET rankings. Those would be high quality wins. It’s obviously a lot easier said then done, especially with Eiljah Hughes status questionable for these games. Plus the Orange are MASSIVE underdogs against both teams. According to ESPN analytics, the Orange only have a 16.6% chance to beat Florida State and 12% chance to beat Louisville. The odds aren’t great, but the Orange MUST win at least one of these games in order to have a real chance.

February 22nd vs Georgia Tech (82nd in NET Ranking)

February 26th @ Pittsburgh (78th in NET Ranking)

February 29th vs North Carolina (96th in NET Ranking)

The rest of February doesn’t present any resume type wins. These are games the Orange are expected to win and add to the win total. The Orange are 78.8% favorites over Georgia Tech, underdogs vs Pittsburgh at 45.3%, and heavy 75.1% favorites over North Carolina according to the ESPN. A loss to one of any three of these teams will only add insult to injury.

March 3rd @ Boston College (140th in NET Ranking)

March 7th @ Miami (108th in NET Ranking)

The Orange wrap up the regular season with two roads games, but again games the Orange SHOULD and NEED to win. They are 68.1% favorites over Boston College and 52.6% favorites over Miami. The good thing is though road wins are more valuable to the NET rankings and the NCAA committee. So despite playing weaker opponents to end the regular season, adding two more road wins certainly won’t hurt their NCAA hopes.

Final Thoughts

If we’re just going off the ESPN analytics, the Orange will finish up with an 11-9 ACC record. While not awful, that isn’t going to cut it in terms of making the NCAA tournament. If they finish with anything less than 12 ACC wins, they will have to make a run in the ACC tournament in March to really have a chance.

To me, this season comes down to these next two games against Florida State and Louisville. If the Orange can win at least one, they will have a fighter’s chance at making it. If they lose both, then Orange fans will have to pray for an ACC championship to make it. There are still opportunities for Syracuse to make the tournament, the question is now can they seize those chances.