Most Syracuse fans are concerned about what playing 4 (really, 5 games) in the Big East tourney is going to do for our hopes in the NCAA tourney. We all remember what happened in 2006 and would like to avoid the same fate. I was relieved when Syracuse was given a Friday first round game to get an extra day’s worth or rest.
But as John Gasaway of Basketball Prospectus points out, that 2006 team was a much different case than this year’s squad:
I think Syracuse might have lost because, as a five-seed, they were almost certainly the most over-seeded team of the tempo-free era, one that could not beat a correctly slotted 12-seed. In Big East play that season the ‘Cuse was outscored by their opponents by 0.08 points for every possession they played, a level of performance equal to what teams like Cincinnati and Iowa have achieved this year within their respective conferences.
And he is right. There is no way we were a five seed that year. As I mentioned previously, we went from being out or nearly out of the tourney to a five for winning the Big East tournament. And don’t forget, that Texas A&M team featured Acie Law and was a 3 seed the following year. And Gerry McNamara’s injury was a much bigger factor than the fatigue factor in that loss.
This year’s team is better than the 2006 team, and healthier. Kristof is healthy after his scarier-looking-than-it-actually-was fall. So Syracuse fans shouldn’t put too much thought into this year’s team facing the same hurdles as the 2006 team.