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Syracuse Tournament Status: Edition III

The sky is not falling yet, but it is getting pretty dark.

Two heartbreaking losses in the span of six days has dulled Syracuse's consideration for tournament inclusion. However, the losses are not irreparable; over the Orange's final slate of nine contests, Syracuse will face seven clubs with RPI values within the nation's top 100.

The moral of the story: put down the bleach and razor blades.

Resume and Factors of Relevance
The foregoing data is accurate only to the date and time of publication. As this feature will not receive a daily update (rather, a weekly update will take place), its particular factual accuracy should not receive great weight as the week subsequently passes. However, it should stand as a solid indicator of what Syracuse has accomplished this season and what the Orange must yet achieve in order to secure another NCAA Tournament invitation.

With respect to the status variables included, each variable relates to one of five possible states of affairs:

  1. Great;
  2. Good;
  3. Adequate;
  4. Troubling; and
  5. Terrible.

Status variables ranging above "adequate" indicate facts and circumstances conducive to receiving a bid. Status variables ranging below "adequate" indicate facts and circumstances of concern -- relative to the rest of the nation, Syracuse needs to improve its position. The status variable of "adequate" indicates a hold position -- depending on what other colleges or universities accomplish, Syracuse's current status may or may not be good enough to merit an invitation.

Resume and Factors of Relevance
Factor of RelevanceFactor ValueStatus
Big East Record4-3Adequate
Non-Conference Record11-3Adequate
National RankNoneTroubling
Pomeroy Rank44Adequate
Syracuse RPI47Adequate
Big East RPI7Troubling
Non-Conference RPI57Troubling
Overall SOS31Good
Non-Conference SOS80Adequate
RPI 1-50 Record2-2Adequate
RPI 51-100 Record3-3Adequate
RPI 101-200 Record6-1Good
RPI 200+ Record4-0Great
Last 10 Games6-4Troubling
Road/Neutral Record3-3Troubling
Solid Victories1. Villanova
2. Marquette
3. Hofstra
4. Holy Cross
5. Penn
Detrimental DefeatsSt. John'sAdequate
Projected Record20-10Adequate
Projected BE Record9-7Adequate
Total Invitation StatusAdequate

Invitation Status Downgrade
The downgrade is primarily attributable to three factors: 1) Losing to St. John's on the road (Syracuse's first defeat to a team ranked outside the RPI top 100); 2) The Orange's 6-4 "Last 10" record; and 3) The static nature of the Big East's standing relative to the rest of the country.

Despite the downgrade from "good" to "adequate," Syracuse stands in a fairly good position relative to the rest of the nation. Despite the two consecutive losses, the Orange fell only seven positions in the RPI. However, its overall strength of schedule ranking remained steady while its non-conference strength of schedule rose seven positions. Moreover, it's non-conference RPI value also rose considerably.

What does this mean? Well, in short, if Syracuse can maintain is projected pace, the Orange's final RPI and strength of schedule values should be consummate with those of tournament-invited clubs.

The logic behind such a position is fairly straightforward and tied directly to the formulas designed to calculate such values.

With respect to the RPI, the formula utilized looks as follows:

1/4*(Winning Percentage) + 1/2*(Opponents' Average Winning Percentage) + 1/4*(Opponents' Opponents' Winning Percentage)

Given the fact that the formula puts such a strong emphasis on opponents winning percentages, Syracuse should complete the season with a strong RPI value. In pertinent part, as more than half of Syracuse's opponents this season are projected to finish with 19 wins or more this season, the formula should play to the Orange's advantage (assuming, of course, that Syracuse does not implode over its final nine contests).

Similarly, the strength of schedule formula also benefits the Orange:

(2/3) Opponents Winning Pct. + (1/3) Opponent's Opponents Winning Pct

As noted above, Syracuse should take advantage of this formula as its slate looks to be one of the tougher in the country.

In short, worrying about the RPI right now is the least of Syracuse's worries. What the Orange needs to do currently is improve its conference record and its overall record. If Syracuse should finish with at least 20 wins and around 10 conference victories, the Orange should merit invitation consideration despite the lack of "marquee" victories.

Last 10 Games
Position is exactly the same as last week. Syracuse simply needs to make a good showing down the stretch. A home victory Tuesday against Notre Dame would be an excellent start.

However, if Syracuse sticks to its predicted path, the Orange will close out the regular season with a 4-6 record "last 10 games" record. Clearly, a run into the Big East Tournament would be necessary to merit stronger consideration.

Who To Root For
Three teams: St. John's, Villanova, and Marquette. These are, respectively, the Orange's worst loss and best victories. Mitigating the damage and elevating the positives would certainly do some good.

General Fodder

  • At this stage, I am not sure why Texas is generally considered to be a tournament club. Its marquee victories are Arkansas and Oklahoma (two average teams) and its quantitative values are weaker than Syracuse's. Unless the Longhorns do something markedly impressive over its final 10 games, Texas should not have a stronger shot at the tournament than Syracuse.

  • Connecticut is destined for the NIT. It is just that simple. Connecticut's only saving grace for the season is that it will defeat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome as I will be in attendance for the Orange-Huskies contest on February 17th.

  • Barometer Team To Watch: Southern Illinois. The Salukis are the poster boys of why people both love and despise the RPI and strength of schedule formulas.

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