Is The Syracuse Basketball Team Getting Love In Latest Mock Drafts?

With an ever improving Syracuse basketball resume, the experts are changing their tune on whether the Orange are in the tournament picture.

The Syracuse basketball squad, following four straight wins, including two over top 10 teams, is starting to enter the conversation as it pertains to a possible NCAA Tournament berth.

What a difference two weeks make.

The Orange (15-9, 7-4 in conference play), heading in to its road showdown with Clemson on Tuesday night, finds itself projected to make the field of 68 in the most-recent mock brackets from CBS, NBC and USA Today.

Over at ESPN, meanwhile, Joe Lunardi has SU in his “Next Four Out” category, along with Georgetown and Michigan. I thoroughly dislike getting grouped alongside that pair of programs.

CBS’s Jerry Palm lists Syracuse in his “Last Four In,” along with fellow ACC counterpart Miami. Georgia Tech and Wake Forest are in the “First Four Out.” In total, Palm has 10 Atlantic Coast Conference representatives in his bracket.

Syracuse is a No. 11 seed in his field, and the ‘Cuse would square off in the East Region with Michigan, also a No. 11 seed, in the First Four. I actually welcome this match-up, as it gives the Orange an opportunity to exact revenge against the Wolverines for besting SU in the 2013 Final Four, a game which I attended. Sigh.

NBC’s Dave Ommen puts nine ACC members in his bracket, and Syracuse has one of the last four byes. Miami is among the “Last Four In.” Clemson is part of the “First Four Out,” while Georgia Tech and Wake Forest are in the “Next Four Out” grouping.

Ommen projects that the ‘Cuse, as a No. 11 seed, would battle in the South Region with Saint Mary’s, a No. 6 seed and currently ranked 20th in the latest AP Poll.

Shelby Mast of USA Today includes 10 Atlantic Coast Conference outfits in his projected field, with

Wake Forest in the “First Four Out.” Syracuse is placed in the West Region as a No. 10 seed, set to tip off with SMU, a No. 7 seed and presently ranked 25th in the country.

Finally, Lunardi, a ‘Cuse fan favorite (insert sarcasm here), has 10 ACC teams in his mock bracket. Clemson is among the “Last Four In,” while Georgia Tech is in the “First Four Out.” As previously mentioned, SU is in the “Next Four Out.”

Lunardi caught flack in Central New York a little over a year ago, when he adamantly prognosticated that Syracuse would not – and should not – make the 2016 Big Dance. SU sneaked in, and made a glorious run to the Final Four.

Furthermore, this past January, he wrote an article for ESPN.com that claimed it “inevitable” the Orange would miss the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

So the fact that the ‘Cuse is inching closer to inclusion in Lunardi’s field is a cause for mild celebration. He is even having fun with this, recently tweeting: “Apparently all Syracuse needed was for me to (again!) declare them dead. Next year I’ll do it opening night and the Orange will go 40-0.”

Please do so, Joe. I’d become your biggest fan.

These mock brackets don’t mean much at the moment, because college basketball is just now swinging into high gear. A lot of regular-season games left, as well as the conference tournaments.

For our boys, the best recipe is to win, win, win. Beginning with Clemson on Tuesday night, SU clashes with several other squads on the bubble, such as the Tigers and Georgia Tech, as well as ranked teams like No. 4 Louisville and No. 18 Duke.

I’ve said it before: I firmly believe 11 conference triumphs, and 19 to 20 overall victories, should enable Syracuse to dance come mid-March. We need a couple more road conquests. Clemson is a prime prospect that SU must seize.

Given the Orange’s outlook a mere 14 days ago, that the ‘Cuse is getting any consideration at all among the various bracketologists is encouraging. Let’s keep the mojo moving forward. Sweating out Selection Sunday is absolutely no fun!

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