March Madness Final Four Preview – Syracuse
Syracuse is not only the most unlikely final four team, but they’re one of the more controversial tournament teams in recent memory. To no fault of their own, many people didn’t think Syracuse even belonged in this tournament, including myself. People have been saying all week “well I guess they proved us wrong,” but did they really? Syracuse has had a controversial and rocky season to say the least. Head coach Jim Boeheim was suspended for nine games during the season stemming from multiple drug related infractions within the university’s basketball team over a period of eight years. During this nine game period, Syracuse went 4-5 including a loss to St. John’s, considered by many to be the worst loss by any tournament team this year. After some good wins against Duke and Notre Dame, Syracuse lost five of their last six games, and were thought by many to be a team who was on the negative side of the bubble. At one point, Jim Boeheim told the media that the committee should take his suspension into account and that the kids have been “punished enough.” The selection committee usually likes to pick teams who are hot in March, not ones who have been cold since February. Despite all of this, Syracuse ended up getting a #10 seed. I was asked by a co-worker who I thought was the most over seeded team in the tournament. Without hesitation, I said Syracuse as a #10 seed surprised me. They’re a bubble team who didn’t get treated like one. A 19-13 record isn’t worthy of a tournament bid. An RPI of 71 isn’t worthy of a tournament bid. They got in over some great mid-majors this year, and I don’t care if those teams didn’t do great in the NIT. Syracuse didn’t deserve to be in this tournament, let alone get a #10 seed and avoid the first four in Dayton. Regardless, they beat the teams who were in put in front of them, and they are now in the final four. The beauty of the tournament is that all 68 teams have a shot to win the tournament, all they have to do is be the last team standing. But, has Syracuse really proven all of us wrong? In my mind, Syracuse has about 2.5 wins in this tournament. I will give them credit for Dayton and Virginia, but don’t tell me that they weren’t lucky to get Middle Tennessee. Syracuse narrowly avoided a matchup with the Michigan State Spartans, and I have a feeling their luck would have ran out sooner had the chips fell a bit differently. Instead, Middle Tennessee played the game of their lives, and there was no way they were duplicating that performance against the Orange. The win over Gonzaga still confuses me, but considering the NCAA just came out and admitted officiating mistakes late in that game, the credit I give Syracuse here has been discounted. Now, I don’t want to take anything away from this team. After the win over Virginia, Syracuse has shown the nation and proved to me that they have a legit defense and they can make a late game comeback if they need to. Will this be enough to power past North Carolina in the Semifinals? Who knows, it’s March. Anything can happen, and I definitely won’t put it past Syracuse to pull out a victory. These conference matchups can provide great drama due to the familiarity, and I’m thinking we’ll get a close game on Saturday night.