Syracuse men's basketball misses NCAA Tournament

After finishing season 18-14, Orange does not receive at-large bid

Despite a whole lot of nail-biting and praying, the Syracuse men’s basketball team failed to make it into the NCAA Tournament on Sunday after spending most of the year on the bubble. Syracuse at times looked like an NCAA Tournament team, but failed to convince the selection committee that they were worthy of a bid.

Syracuse finished the regular season at 18-14 overall and 10-8 in the ACC, a disappointing year after being ranked 19th in the Associated Press preseason poll and 17th in USA Today’s preseason poll.

"I think it comes down to we won just two road games and we lost three games to teams outside the top 100."
- Jim Boeheim

Syracuse started the season 4-0 before stumbling to five losses in non-conference play, including bad losses to St. John’s, Connecticut and at Boston College, all of whom finished the season with losing records. The Orange also lost four of its first seven ACC regular season games, staring at an 11-9 record with 11 games remaining. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said that the bad losses at the start of the season ultimately cost SU a bid.

“I thought we had a terrible start to our season,” Boeheim said. “We put ourselves in a tremendous hole and then after that I thought we played, really, as well as we could. I think it comes down to we won just two road games and we lost three games to teams outside the top 100.”

Syracuse bounced back in the middle of the season with five straight wins in conference play, making it look like a NCAA Tournament bid was not far away. However, the Orange lost five of its last seven games, including a close ACC Tournament game against Miami to end a disappointing season. 

While the team had impressive ACC wins against Florida State, Virginia and Duke, the bad losses to teams like Boston College, Pittsburg and Georgia Tech hurt Syracuse’s at-large chances and ultimately cost it a spot in the tournament this year.

Bracket experts were conflicted on what would happen with Syracuse. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Syracuse as one the last four teams in the field, but CBS Sports had them as one of the last four out. Syracuse finished the season with the 63rd ranked strength of schedule and 84th in the RPI.

The Orange have had up and down seasons in the past three years. SU was ineligible for the NCAA Tournament in 2015 but made it all the way to the Final Four last year. This year saw the team struggle to replace Malachi Richardson and Michael Gbinije following last year's Final Four run. Even with the big personnel losses to the NBA, this will go down as a difficult and disappointing season that had a lot of potential early on.

“It is what it is and we just have to get ready and try and play the best that we can in the NIT,” Boeheim said.

Syracuse received the top overall seed in the NIT and will face UNC Greensboro on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.


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