Syracuse made the Final Four but *still* never belonged in the NCAA tournament

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Two weeks ago, about an hour after that interminable tournament Selection Show, I wrote a post about how Syracuse didn’t deserve to be in the NCAA tournament. With each successive victory I’ve received a tweet from the same person, presumably a Syracuse fan, that contains the same basic theme: "So, do you think they belong now?" 

The answer then, now and if Jim Boeheim’s team cuts down the nets next Monday is simple. No. No, no, 1,000 times no. Just because Syracuse has parlayed its gift at-large berth into an unlikely Final Four berth — one the Orange earned during the tournament and fully deserve — doesn’t justify their inclusion. Your resume doesn’t retroactively change because you go on a 25-4 run against Virginia. If you didn’t belong on Selection Sunday, you still don’t belong now. 

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

We all knew Syracuse could play. No one ever doubted that, and it’s not the issue. The issue was that of the 34 at-large teams, others had a better case than Syracuse and therefore should have been playing. You don’t watch a low-seeded team make the Final Four — say VCU as a No. 11 in 2011 — and say, "Well, they should have been a No. 1!" That’s not the way it works.

What happens in the tournament provides no vindication for what happened before it. All it means is that Syracuse has been awesome in its last four games, nothing more, nothing less. There’s no reason to rehash why the Orange shouldn’t have made it, but they got in anyway and made the most of it. Bully for them.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Syracuse is a big-time program with a Hall of Fame coach playing in the best conference in college basketball. Of course the Orange can beat the Nos. 7, 15 and 10 seeds, then win a close game against a tight conference opponent. Yes, it’s a surprise to me, you and everybody else, including Boeheim, I’m sure. But this is far from a shocker.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Six nights from now, Syracuse will play in the Final Four against another ACC team it knows well. Eight nights from now, Syracuse’s press could shut down Villanova or the Orange could catch Buddy Hield in a cold snap. Winning it all is a legitimate possibility. On that night, Boeheim could ascend the ladder at the national championship for the second time, scissors in hands. Syracuse will have a national title it will have deserved for winning six games in a row and outlasting the other 67 teams in the wild, one-and-done NCAA tournament. But even if that Syracuse dream comes true, it’ll never mean the Orange should have had the opportunity to live it.