Bubble Banter: Syracuse, firmly on the bubble, plays waiting game

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The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here. That is where the seeds listed below come from. 

This post will be updated throughout the day.

LOSERS

Syracuse (RPI: 75, KenPom: 44, No. 11 seed): The Orange are now officially on the bubble, and depending on who you talk to, this team may be on the wrong side of the bubble. Here is where they currently stand: The Orange are 18-14 on the season and sit at 75th in the RPI. They have beaten Florida State, Duke, Virginia, Wake Forest and Miami this season, but every one of those wins came at home. The Orange, on the season, are just 2-11 away from the Carrier Dome, with those wins coming against Clemson and N.C. State, who combined for nine ACC wins all year long. And that’s before you factor in that the Cuse have four losses to sub-100 teams, including to a bad UConn team, at Boston College and at home against St. John’s by 33 points.

Head coach Jim Boeheim told reporters after the game that “it doesn’t matter what I think” about his team’s at-large chances, and proceeded to lay out every argument why the Orange should get in: the Orange have three wins against teams that were in the top 10 when they beat them, or as Boeheim put it, “We have better wins than we had last year”; winning on the road in the ACC is hard, proof being that three ACC tournament teams have just three road wins and North Carolina, who won the league, is just 5-4 on the road; “We finished seventh, tied for seventh,” Boeheim said. “Other conferences are talking about getting 60 percent of their teams in the tournament. If we’re the best conference in the country, we should get more than 50 percent of teams in the tournament.”

There are some valid arguments there.

Syracuse certainly has a case to be in the dance.

But they better root against every bubble team and hope that Middle Tennessee State wins the Conference USA tournament, because all those losses — the bad ones and all the ones away from home — are enough of a stain that the Orange are anything-but a lock.

Wake Forest (RPI: 31, KenPom: 30, no. 11 seed): Wake is going to be a very interesting case on Selection Sunday after losing to Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament on Wednesday. They’re 19-13 on the season and played one of the 20 toughest non-conference schedules in the country. They played five true road games before ACC play started and lost three of those games. The problem is that the Demon Deacons have just three top 50 wins and only a single top 40 win, but it just so happens that top 40 win came over Louisville.

Wake challenged themselves. They played at Richmond and at UNC Greensboro and at Charleston; high major programs don’t do that all that often. They’ve beaten an elite team and they have nothing that can be termed a bad loss on their résumé. I think Wake gets in, but I think it’s going to be a sweat for them this week as they watch every other bubble team get chances to collect wins.

Clemson (RPI: 63, KenPom: 35, bubble): A win over Duke on Wednesday afternoon would have given Clemson a fighting chance at a bid if they could pick off Louisville in the quarterfinals. Clemson lost by seven.

WINNERS

Cal (RPI: 55, KenPom: 55, next four out): The Bears tried to but they couldn’t quite lose to Oregon State on Wednesday night. That means they advance to face Utah in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The Bears need to win that game and beat Oregon in the semis to have a real shot at being an at-large team.

Xavier (RPI: 32, KenPom: 43, play-in game): Xavier beat DePaul on Wednesday night, setting themselves up for a “win and you’re in” game on Thursday against Butler in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.

USC (RPI: 39, KenPom: 61, play-in game): USC survived Washington, meaning that the Trojans will have a chance to lock up their at-large bid on Thursday against UCLA in the Pac-12 quarterfinals.