Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Syracuse Could Reach Final Four Without Leaving New York State; Providence Making a Move Toward Big Dance
For years, Syracuse has made a habit of seemingly never leaving New York State for its non-conference schedule, although the Orange did play in Maui this year.
This year, it’s entirely possible the Orange won’t have to leave the Empire State during the NCAA Tournament until the Final Four in Arlington, Texas.
Both Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm have the Orange as the No. 1 seed in the East and opening in Buffalo for the first two rounds. Buffalo, by the way, is only about 1 hour, 20 minutes from point guard Tyler Ennis’ home near Toronto.
Assuming the Orange get past those first two rounds, they would then play the East Regional semifinals and final at Madison Square Garden March 28 and 30.
“It’s gonna happen,” Lunardi said on Twitter of the Orange playing in Buffalo.
Syracuse is 92-74 all-time at Madison Square Garden and enjoys a huge homecourt advantage thanks to all the Syracuse alums in the New York City area.
According to Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard, Syracuse’s lone NCAA Tournament game at the Garden was against UConn in 1957. Syracuse won that game 82-76 to advance to the NCAA’s East Regional in Philadelphia where Syracuse beat Lafayette before losing to eventual national champion North Carolina.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and his players — who face Duke in a monumental ACC game Saturday at the Carrier Dome — have said they’d love to play the East Regional at the Garden.
“People say neutral court, but that’s nonsense,” Boeheim said last month at the Garden. “If you can go to the Regional in your area it’s going to help you. We got there from New Jersey, we got there from Albany, we got there from Washington, D.C.
“So it’s easier to get there if you’re in your own area, there’s no question about that. But you just gotta play well and see what happens. Control your own destiny a little bit.”
PROVIDENCE MAKING A MOVE TOWARD BIG DANCE
If the NCAA Tournament started today — which, of course, it does not — the Preseason No. 1, 2 and 5 teams in the Big East standings would not make the Big Dance.
Those schools are Marquette (1), Georgetown (2) and St. John’s (5) — which are a combined 8-15 in the new-look Big East.
Creighton (17-3) and Villanova (18-2) — which are 7-1 in the Big East — appear safe bets to make the Big Dance, and Xavier (15-5, 5-2) is also in good shape.
Providence, picked sixth in the Preseason poll, is also making a move and could be the Big East’s fourth team. Both Lunardi and Palm currently have them in, with Lunardi listing the Friars as a 12 seed in the East, and Palm listing them as an 8 in the South.
Despite losing Kris Dunn, Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock, Providence coach Ed Cooley has the Friars at 15-5, 5-2 Big East.
After Saturday’s win over Xavier at the Dunk, they have won five in a row entering Thursday’s game at Marquette.
Photo: Syracuse Athletics
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.