With Syracuse's win Monday night against reeling West Virginia, the Orange should have wrapped up a position in the field of 65. The resume speaks for itself:
Bricks and Mortar
Record: 19-8 (7-6)
RPI: 28 (.6037)
Conference RPI: 2
Strength of Schedule: 10 (.5934)
W/L (RPI 1-50): 2-8
W/L (RPI 51-100): 6-0
W/L (RPI 101-200): 6-0
W/L (RPI 201+): 5-0
Note: Syracuse has played only one team (St. John's) outside of the RPI 100 since January 8, 2006, when the Orange beat South Florida.
Looking at this resume leads to one simple conclusion: it would be irresponsible for the tournament committee to invite a college/university designated as a "mid-major" over Syracuse.
This conclusion is buttressed by two points. First, to invite a "mid-major" positioned somewhere in the RPI 30-100+ range over the Orange would punish Syracuse for playing and defeating every "mid-major" program it has faced this season (with the notable exception of Bucknell). This seems acutely unfair, given that Syracuse, unlike many other notable programs, has actually given high "mid-majors" the opportunity to play the Orange this season. There should be an incentive to play these "mid-major" programs, not a disincentive to do so.
Second, Syracuse is playing in the most difficult college basketball conference ever. To punish Syracuse for playing in the Big East and choosing to play a landmine-filled non-conference schedule would smack of injustice. Quite simply, the at-large process was designed to get big conference teams who suffered through back-breaking conference schedules into the tournament. Thus, the entire process was established to favor the way Syracuse got to a 19-8 record rather than the way Utah State has gotten to 17-6.
On less policy-based grounds, Syracuse has still positioned itself magnificantly for a tournament bid, despite the lack of big names dotting Syracuse's kill list this season. StatesFans Nation, a North Carolina State blog, looked at some recent history and came to the following conclusions:
Teams from the six “big” conferences can worry about seeding and not an invitation with an RPI ranking of 35 or better heading into Selection Sunday.
Teams ranked #36 - #55 have less than a 50-50 chance of getting an at-large bid.
Teams from #56 - #75 need “friends in high places” or some late-season heroics to garner an at-large bid.
Teams ranked below #75 need to start lobbying for a home game in the NIT.
Futhermore, we may even be talking about Syracuse just not "sliding" into the field, but also having a pretty cushy seed. Once more, StatesFan Nation provides the lowdown. As it turns out, over the last four years, NCAA tournament teams that have been seeded seventh have had an average RPI of 30 and within the range of 17 to 47.So, as it stands currently, Syracuse is clearly one of the squads in the field of 65, assuming that its RPI will not drop (which it shouldn't given the number of quality opponents left on the Orange's schedule). Consequently, all the doom and gloom surrounding this team is either unfounded or premature.
It Was On the Radio So It Must Be True
Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese was on WFAN's Mike and the Maddog radio program yesterday. During his interview, Transhese dropped a a piece of knowledge that I felt was incredibly important: the Big East may be moving toward an 18-game conference slate.
[Pause to pee my pants]
As it turns out, the Big East's contract with ESPN et. al. will expire in two years. At that time, the conference is looking into moving toward an 18-game conference slate which should provide more balance to a hoops lineup that is currently unbalanced at best. The reason for this move, according to Tranghese, is to take away the ability of television networks to dictate which teams must face-off against each other in conference play. By eliminating the television networks, Geppetto can no longer control how the conference creates its schedule. This, in the end, would allow teams like Syracuse to stop playing league schedules dramatically disproportionate in difficulty to teams like Providence.
I figure this could have two consequences:
1) Jim Boeheim will become the happiest man alive; or
2) His wrinkly head will explode.
What's It Called? The "Daily O"?
The Daily Orange has put out its 2006 lacrosse preview, complete with avant garde photography and a really good story on how lacrosse coaches are forced to split scholarships. It's all definitely worth a perusal.
The Road to the Championship is Alaways Under Construction
Ivan Maisel has put together a nice little off-season observation on the Orange. Favorite passages include:
Surely, winter conditioning can't get tougher than this. You play forAnd, speaking about the off-season program coach Robinson has erected:
Syracuse University, and you're coming off your school's worst season in 113 years. It's 5:30 a.m., it's 10 degrees, and last night's snow greets you as you open the door to leave. You might have gotten six hours of sleep, sandwiched around that 2:30 a.m. homecoming by your housemates stumbling in from wherever they began the weekend.
If you're lucky, you have a car, and you leave time to scrape last night's snow and ice off the windshield. Otherwise, you join your teammates in a zombie-like walk down the hill toward the football building, where a 6 a.m. workout awaits. Some of you wear a hooded jacket. Some wear a knit cap. You're wearing a knit cap and a hood. Driving or walking, you dodge the dump truck, plow protruding from its front lip, that's wheeling up and down the parking lot.
This sort of dedication is why Robinson believes that his team's road construction -- the hallway saying is one he borrowed from his former boss with the Kansas City Chiefs, Dick Vermeil -- is farther along than it looks. To the chronically skeptical Syracuse fan, that saying may sound the way FEMA sounds to the folks in New Orleans.