So much for a stress-free Selection Sunday for Syracuse fans. The Orange men's basketball team could have basically clinched an NCAA Tournament spot with a win against Miami on Wednesday afternoon but Syracuse squandered a prime opportunity for a win against the Hurricanes.
John Gillon had a chance to tie it before the buzzer but his three-point attempt clanged off the rim and the Orange lost 62-57. It would have been fitting if it had gone in since Syracuse has been narrowly escaping close losses all season.
Not this time. Syracuse played a good game against Miami but it needed a great one. After Gillon's three with 40 seconds left made it 57-55, the Orange didn't foul on the next Hurricane possession, squandering precious time.
This isn't second-guessing, outside of Tyus Battle's missed slam dunk that led to a Miami transition basket, Syracuse didn't do anything really wrong that you can look back at and say it cost them the game.
After beating Miami earlier this season, Syracuse couldn't repeat when they sorely needed a win.
Now the Orange head home and wait for Sunday to learn whether they make the NCAAs or drop to a spot in the NIT.
Syracuse fans have to be hopeful when they hear the bracket "experts" say their team is in even after their loss to Miami, that their 10-8 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference and quality wins over ranked teams Duke, Virginia and Florida State are enough to get them in.
But the negatives are blaring with that No. 75 RPI and only two wins away from the Carrier Dome (2-11 overall). Or that the Orange lost to, yikes, St. John's, Boston College and UConn.
If I was a Syracuse fan, I'd be rooting for other bubble teams to lose early this week. They're going to need some help.
Last season most expected the Orange to miss March Madness but the selection committee surprised Syracuse fans with an at-large bid that turned into a stunning Final Four appearance.
It wouldn't be a shock if it went the other way this season. Last year going into Selection Sunday, Syracuse was 19-12 with a 4-5 record against top 25 teams; this season they're 18-14 and 3-5.
It's basically the same resume but every year is different, what was a good record one season may not be the next. Strange things can happen in that selection room on Sunday, statistics can be dissected and turned into arguments for and against Syracuse.
Honestly, I don't think they'll get in. The Orange are 2-5 over the last month and recent play matters a lot. That 33-point loss to St. John's in December really stings. They do have some quality wins but in the end I don't believe it will be enough.
Ultimately, the Orange can only blame themselves if they don't make it. But if they do, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if they either got blown out in the first game or made another run to the Final Four.
You just don't know what to expect from this Orange team, so hang in there, the suspense will end in a few days. Try not to stress out.