Cuse Country

Home Away From Dome for Syracuse Orange Fans

The Blame Game

Posted by Josh on March 11, 2007

An attempt to find some rationale amidst the steaming heap of dung that is this year’s Field of 65 (and how Syracuse ended up in the NIT). All computer numbers from WarrenNolan.com.

  • Conference RPI. This was probably the single biggest nail in SU’s proverbial coffin. The Big East was generally ranked as the 5th or 6th best conference this year, with no real juggernaut teams. I can see the committee (even though they claim to not put limits on the number of teams from one conference) deciding not to take a 7th Big East team, when “better” conferences only had 5 (SEC) or 6 (the Big and Pac 10’s). Of course, this kind of reasoning ignores the fact that the Big East’s top 10 teams stack up favorably (as a group) with the top 10 from any other conference. But it’s the sort of thing we all feared when the expansion took shape.
  • Daylight Saving Time. With one less hour of sleep last night, the selection committee was probably extra cranky this morning and looking for someone to pick on. Considering that Boeheim lobbied publicly last year for the tournament field to be significantly expanded, they clearly decided to teach him a lesson about opening his mouth. Now if he brings this issue up again, he’s lost some credibility and they can dismiss it as sour grapes.
  • No Nonconference Help. Losses to Wichita St and Oklahoma St were deemed “acceptable” when those teams were in the top 10. They turned out to both miss the tournament by a wide margin, and those losses became large blotches on SU’s resume rather than forgivable blemishes. Especially Wichita State, which was a loss at the Dome; WSU fell to 98 in the RPI by the end of the season. Similarly, Hofstra did not contend as well as they were expected to. (Holy Cross stepped up though.) Who would have thought that Drexel would be the “best” of the three December losses when all was said and done?
  • The Curse of Daryl Gross. The back-to-back first-round NCAA losses to lower-seeded teams, that’s one thing. The lacrosse team’s streak of Final Fours getting snapped, that’s another. And in football… well, you know. Not to mention longtime Dome PA announcer Carl Eilenberg retiring and being replaced the guy whose previous job was introducing the fan who was trying to make the shot from the recliner. And now this. SU being left out of the tournament altogether is just the latest chapter in what is now officially a disturbing trend. We’re all waiting for some results here, DG.
  • No Conference Help. Not only did the lack of a consensus top-five team hurt the Big East’s image conferencewise, it also hurt the computer rankings of the individual teams. Compare SU’s resume to that of Purdue (a 9 seed). Purdue’s only wins vs. the RPI top 50 were all at home: vs. Indiana, Mich St, and Illinois. MSU is the highest-ranked team in that list, with an RPI of 24; the others are in the 30s. SU also had 3 wins vs. the top 50, and one was on the road: Nova, Gtown, at Marquette. Marquette is the lowest-ranked team on that list (22); the others are 19 and 9. When you look at the other side of the coin, Purdue lost two games to teams with triple-digit RPIs: at Indiana State (139) and at Minnesota (189). SU had two such losses also: at St Johns (131) and at UConn (102). Finally, both teams were 3 games over .500 against the “middle of the pack” RPI teams (PU 6-3, SU 5-2). Looking at those numbers, you would expect SU to have a higher RPI than Purdue, having beaten better teams and lost to less-worse teams. Yet Purdue’s RPI was 7 spots better than SU’s because they lost to Ohio St 3 times and once to Wisconsin. Hey, we could have lost to Ohio State 3 times too! Would that have got us in the tournament?
  • Don’t even get me started on Stanford. (18-12; RPI: 65; 11 seed)
  • It’s Our Fault Too. We all made the mortal sports-fan’s sin of assuming something good was going to happen with our team, and crowing about it. This kind of behavior regularly leads to crushing retribution by the Sports Gods. I myself was quite guilty of this in several recent posts. (In my defense, I was led astray by approximately 100% of the media pundits.) So I guess we were asking for it. And furthermore, the fact remains that since this blog was started, SU has not been to the NCAA Tournament.

Now, let fly the slimmest of potential silver linings: the last time SU was in the NIT (2001-02), they lost several experienced players at the end of that season; the following season they returned a few solid players (including an improving young power forward) and added a top-10 recruit, a 6’8″ freshman forward from Baltimore, plus an undersized-yet-scrappy point guard…

…it’s about all I have to hold on to at this point.

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11 Responses to “The Blame Game”

  1. Michael said

    http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/ncaatourney07/columns/story?id=2795023

    “The toughest call of the day apparently was eliminating Syracuse, in large part because of the human element. Walters said that Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is a personal friend, and he was hoping he would remain so after the Orange didn’t get a bid. Overall, Walters said this was the toughest field to put together in his five seasons on the selection committee, essentially with 104 teams winning 20 or more games this season after a previous high of 78 teams accomplishing the feat last season. That put more teams in the bubble pool, according to Walters. ”

    MW

  2. bobyk said

    Walters said that Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is a personal friend, and he was hoping he would remain so after the Orange didn’t get a bid.

    Boeheim should tell this guy to go f#ck himself.

  3. Jer said

    Anyone else like 22-10 Duke as a Number #6 seed in the tourney? No. I didn’t think so.

    Their record sure sounds familiar though…

    Oh, I know why Duke sounds familiar to a Syracuse fan. They had an 8-8 conference record (oh, wait, our’s was 10-6).

    No, it’s got to be the fact that Duke lost to Marquette at home. No, wait, we beat Marquette by 12 on their own court.

    Oh, maybe it’s because they beat Georgetown, buuuuut that was only by 9. We beat them by 14 and it could have been by much more had we desired.

    I found it!!!

    Both Duke and Syracuse had very similar wins at home against Holy Cross. That must have been it. So, we’re a six seed like Duke in the tourney, right? I haven’t been paying attention…

  4. DutchHart said

    I forfeit life until I can understand the trave-sham-mockery that they consider leaving this team out while putting in Stanford, Arkansas, giving Duke a 6, Nova a 9? What is this world coming to… God I can’t even think straight right now…

  5. I may be nitpicking but it’s “Daylight Saving Time”.

  6. Allyson said

    Tim and I were in the Syracuse Airport waiting for our delayed flight home (thanks JetBlue!) when Jer called with the news. I kind of thought someone had been murdered by his outrage and disgust. I should have taken some cellphone video of him pacing back and forth on the phone…

  7. voteprime said

    I was with some friends and we didn’t even bother to watch the selection show. But we flipped on the TV towards the end to catch our teams’ seeds. And it was at that point that I heard someone on TV start talking about the biggest teams left out and I immediately started yelling. “7 of last 10!” “10-6 in the Big East” “Only team to beat G’town in their last 16 games!” I didn’t even know I had this information readily available to shout out at a moment’s notice. I guess it was instincts.

    Did anyone catch out boy Gottlieb saying that he agreed with the committee and that Syracuse totally didn’t deserve a bid? What kind of analyst can change their opinion that many times and still be considered an analyst? First he says SU has no chance, then in a chat on espn.com after the win against Georgetown he says they’re a lock. Then after all is said and done he goes back to saying SU had no chance. ESPN is full of guys that either played or coached somewhere before coming to television. And most of them are professional enough at keeping their allegiances to themselves and can do an honest analysis. But it is way too clear that Gottlieb has an axe to grind and tries to pass this off as analysis. On a bright note, no one honestly cares what he has to say.

  8. voteprime said

    One other thought to try and look at the bright side: Paul Harris really seemed to be finding his mojo in the last few games of the season. He was getting minutes, rebounding, playing D. And against ND he was even scoring! Plus Devendorf had reestablished himself as an offensive force on the team.

    So if this team can actually get motivated to play hard in the NIT, these few extra games would really be huge for preparing for next year. It sounds silly when you think that it’s just a few extra games, however, I think this season has proven that just a few extra games can mean a world of difference in how the team plays.

    And who wasn’t excited after seeing 24 and 15 from Harris and thinking, “Oh man, I hope I get to see this kid for a few more games this year.”

  9. Andrew said

    I don’t want to be one of theose people who repeats what everybody has already heard, but I will say that winning 10 games in the Big East (more than 20 overall), 1 conference tournament game, and the only team to beat Georgetown in the last month should have gotten us in. UCLA got bounced from the Pac-10 tournament in the first round, and people are still claiming they should have been a number 1 seed. Something is seriously wrong with that.

  10. Andrew (from Fairfax, VA) said

    One other thing; about the “No Nonconference Help”, the Washington Post was actually claiming back in December that Drexel may be the best team in Philadelphia this year. At that point they had already beaten Vermont in Burlington, us in the Dome, St. Joseph’s, Villanova, and George Mason in Philadelphia. That should have been a “forgivable” loss on our schedule, and there are still a large amount of people who believe they were the best team in Philadelphia this year, even if Villanova made to the tournament and they didn’t.

  11. frank - maryland said

    Everything stated is correct. However, as a diehard alum.. You can’t lose to St Johns- you just can’t lose a game like that. Really, Boeheim’s approach to the season is ok – but you just can’t drop a game like st johns. There seems to be one every year. If there senior leadership could shoot 55% from the free throw line , I mean something that remotely resembles a fundamental approach to the game and we are in. I like Jim, but he is slow to react – Rautins should have been in sooner this year – harris is OK, but really has no position on the floor. Nichols- hit a lay up late in a game, and some clutch free throws and the cuse in dancing.

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