Fans of Syracuse Men's Basketball might have been surprised hearing that SU was one of the last teams selected for the field of the NCAA Tournament. Whether you found out by watching the selection announcements Sunday night or caught it this morning in the news, there had to be startling on some level.
The players and coaches found out while gathered at the SU Basketball complex. The team erupted in joy at the announcement, clearly indicated that they didn't know in advance.
"People were pushing people over, hugging, it was amazing," said Sophomore Guard Tyus Battle.
SU will go on to play Arizona State Wednesday night in the tournament's first round, which some consider a play-in game before entering the field of 64 bracket. The Sun Devils had a season very similar to SU, finishing 8-10 in the Pac 12 conference, 20-11 overall. SU also won 20 games, against 13 losses overall, and similarly going 8-10 in the ACC conference.
The Syracuse Women's Basketball Team will find out tonight whom they might face in the NCAA Women's Tournament. Coach Quentin Hillsman's team is considered safely into the tournament field, after going 22-8 ont h season, 10-6 in the ACC.
The Orange struggled on the bubble in recent weeks, unsure if they would be selected for the tournament field. Head Coach Jim Boeheim points to a few factors that weighed int heir favor.
"To have the two wins at Louisville and Miami this year, Miami turned out to be one of the better, top teams in the league. I think that helped us. We didn’t have … bad losses; we won at Georgetown and beat Connecticut," said Boeheim. Buffalo really helped us … they’re a really good team (SU beat 81-74 in December)."
The team ended the year with similar uncertainty about their post-season chances; they were not selected for the NCAA field. He praised the team for their play this year, after struggling through two transfers and various injuries left them with a thin roster for much of the season.
“This team has done everything you could ask them to do. We could have squeezed a game or two out when we had the opportunities – North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame. But you’re going to lose some of those close games, Boeheim said.”
He added the team has been practicing, believing they would be in one tournament or another. If the NCAA bid did not some through, the team would likely have played in the NIT tournament. But coaches and players alike expressed obvious joy being part of the tournament referred to as the Big Dance.
The Orange play Arizona State in the NCAA first round Wednesday at about 9:10 p.m. WAER's coverage will begin at 8:30 with an extended version of Countdown to Tipoff, the award-winning pregame show.