WASHINGTON, D.C. — Syracuse was playing for its postseason future on Wednesday afternoon against Pittsburgh in the ACC Tournament, but after losing 72-71, the final statement for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee came from Jim Boeheim.
Syracuse, currently listed by Jerry Palm as one of the “first four out,” announced a self-imposed a postseason ban last February that kept them out of consideration a year ago. The NCAA Committee on Infractions followed up with a nine-game suspension for Boeheim in 2015-16 — a fact that the Syracuse coach thinks the selection committee should take into consideration.
“The chairman of the committee said a coach not being there can be taken like a player not being there,” Boeheim said after the game. “How much is that important? I don’t know. How much is that taken into consideration? I don’t know. I know we’ve beaten four teams in the top 30 or 35 in the country. We’ve beaten eight teams in the top 100. If there’s teams better than that, so be it. We’ll see what happens.”
The Orange went 4-5 during Boeheim’s nine-game suspension, a fact that should be considered by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee when they are debating Syracuse on Selection Sunday. But trying to point to the suspension as a reason to re-consider their profile ignores the missed opportunities to improve their profile over the last month.
Syracuse has beaten just two teams since Feb. 14: Boston College and NC State. The late season conference schedule put the Orange against some of the best teams in the ACC, but those losses now look missed opportunities for quality wins.
Michael Gbinije and the Orange did a great job rallying from 14 down against Pitt in a game that many considered a must-win game for their tournament chances, but falling short marks Syracuse’s five loss in its last six games. Boeheim’s suspension can absolutely be treated like a player’s injury if the committee chooses to do so, but there have been a ton of missed opportunities with the head coach on the sideline that will be more to blame if Syracuse misses the tournament.
Plus, a suspension is not an injury. An injury is (mostly, usually) not the fault of anyone on the current team. Boeheim was punished as a result of multiple NCAA violations found within the program by the Committee on Infractions. Punishing Syracuse further is not the place of the selection committee, but it’s also no reason to give the Orange a pass for a 19-13 record and early exit from the ACC tournament.