Friday, 17 March 2017 10:37

Why Not ‘Cuse?

Choosing to do a bracket? I printed out a blank bracket and made my picks before it all began.  It’s fun, and it is something I have been doing since the term “March Madness” has become one of the biggest things in college sports.

It’s hard to pick, because there will always be upsets, which is always one of the fun parts.  So, my plan: figure out who will upset who.  There is a 16 percent chance that the Final Four will be all number one seeds. Only once since 1979 has there been a Final Four of all number one seeds. I know this is profound, but remember, it’s only one game per match up, so somebody is going to lose that game and somebody is going to win. There is no series of games, like in the NBA, so upsets can be frequent and generally it happens.  There are no more than a handful of perfect brackets every year. This year, college basketball hasn’t had a singular dominant team, as in  some years.

Gonzaga has been at the top of the polls more than any other team in D-1 this season, but in some sportswriters’ minds the question is their strength of schedule. Kentucky and Duke might be the teams with the most talent, but they haven’t proven dominant throughout the regular season. There will obviously be some upsets because it happens every year, so be prepared.

So, why wasn’t Syracuse thrown into the mix? After all they did upset Duke, Miami and Virginia at the Dome. True, they were not a good team on the road. They were 18 and 14, which is just 4 games above the mediocre point, and it seems mediocrity doesn’t pave a path into the top 68. But – and there is always a  “but” in the NCAA National Championship Basketball Tournament when asking why this team was picked over that team – considering that ‘Cuse plays in what is considered one of the premier leagues, if not the best in college basketball, why did the Orange get passed over? Some schools in the brackets don’t even come close to Syracuse’s league schedule and talent. The league does weigh heavily in the selection process. The strength of the Orange’s non-league schedule has always been a question with some of the sports media. Some teams they play are mid-major schools, which doesn’t help their RPI.

RPI stands for the Rating Percentage Index, the quantity used to rank sports teams based upon their wins, losses, and strength of schedule. The Orangemen were 16 and 3, while home at the Dome, with a dismal 2 and 11 away from their house. Not a good resume for the playoffs and their RPI. They were 10 and 8 in the ACC, which is only .556, a tick above .500. So, the unfortunate scenario for Syracuse has been their dismal road record; they were their own nemesis! What more can I say? I know there are weaker teams in the tournament than Syracuse, but with better records, and the way the system is set up some of the mid-majors are in the tournament because of their records along with one pick from their league for winning the league tournament. 

The brackets seem to favor the Villanova Wildcats, last year’s NCAA champions. Some sports writers seem to think they can be the first repeat since Florida won it all in 2006 and 2007, and because of their bracket they are in a good position to do so. Duke pulled off back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992, the only other team to repeat since UCLA won seven straight under the late famed coach John Wooden from 1967 to 1973. What UCLA did is something that I don’t think will ever happen again in men’s college basketball.

So, if you’re a Syracuse fan, get your stuffed Orangeman out and root for ‘Cuse to win the NIT. I feel they could have the majority of their games at the Carrier Dome because of the new format of the NIT, and with the possibility of finishing at Madison Square Garden, it would be a script well written for ‘Cuse, because there are many New Yorkers who are Syracuse Alumni. They could show the NCAA that they might have missed this call in their selection process. Go ‘Cuse!

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