If the committee goes by recent precedence, Syracuse is out. The RPI is now at 68. Indiana got in last year, because of big wins, with an RPI of 58, and that’s the lowest of the last four years in terms of RPI rank, for an at-large selection. Syracuse’s chances are better because of 4 top 50 wins, but the RPI is beyond what has been the range for selection.
That is, unless they get a slight bump for Jim Boeheim’s absence during suspension. If you listen to committee chair Joe Castiglione, the possibility is there. These comments were immediately before the ACC tourney loss.
"“In Syracuse’s case, we recognize you have a Hall of Fame coach who has assembled his team, knows his team, conditions his coach,” Castiglione said. “To pretend he’s not a difference maker would be a mistake.”"
Then yesterday, on Mike & Mike, after Syracuse’s loss to Pittsburgh in the ACC Tournament, Castiglione continued (as transcribed and summarized by Syracuse.com:
"The program hosts, Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg, indicated a number of their listeners don’t believe Boeheim’s suspension should be considered a mitigating factor because it came due to Syracuse breaking NCAA regulations. Castiglione disagreed. “That’s not our role,” Castiglione said. “Our responsibility starts with selecting the 36 best teams. Then, along with the 32 automatic qualifiers seeding and ultimately bracketing the tournament. We’re going to go forward with those evaluations without any prejudice.”"
Here’s the thing, the games that Boeheim missed, Syracuse went 4-5. Of course, while there is little doubt that they didn’t play as well, those losses can’t be chalked up as if they didn’t happen. Most were on the road. The only truly questionable one was at St. John’s, who were not a good team this year. If you replace that with a win, though, the RPI is still only at 61. If you replace the Georgetown one with a win also, then it climbs to 44 and right in range for selection. Then again, a road game at Georgetown (who is 70th in Pomeroy) is no gimme and that is a big assumption. We’ve seen Syracuse lose to Florida State, at Pitt, and again to Pitt on a neutral court recently.
My view– Syracuse was in until their latest collapse. But, the resume isn’t good enough. It’s not punishing them, it’s just refusing to engage in hypotheticals. Now, if you select them, they should be seeded by how good you think they are. But if you go down this path, it’s a slippery slope. Wichita State has a much stronger case. The RPI is higher, and Van Vleet missed over half of their losses. If you are going to use the “well, he’s a Hall of Fame coach” then you have to use the “this Wichita State core has been to a Final Four, and beat Kansas in the tourney last year.”
What, we can take coaches and their history into account, but not the players?
You can’t have it one way for Boeheim and then a different way when it comes to taking into account things like that for others.