In predicting the course of the Syracuse Orange in the NCAA tournament, it is important to note how unpredictable the season has been so far.
Syracuse (27-5) began the season without its point guard from last season, and likely NBA Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams, as well as seniors Brandon Triche and James Southerland.
In Carter-Williams’ place was Canadian freshman Tyler Ennis, who was snubbed for the McDonald’s All-American game as a high school senior and was not in anyone’s conversation when the nation’s best freshmen were being touted.
Unpredictably, Ennis turned out to be one of the best freshmen in the nation and helped guide the Orange to their best start in school history.
In a new-look ACC, the Orange unpredictably started the season 25-0 and rose to become the No. 1 team in the land. Peaking with an overtime win against Duke at the Carrier Dome, the Orange looked like world-beaters.
Photo finish after photo finish, Syracuse managed to keep its pristine record until the unlikeliest opponent brought the Orange back down to earth.
On Wednesday, Feb. 19, former Big East foe Boston College came into Syracuse with a five-game losing streak and was the loser of eight of its last nine games, including a 10-point loss to Syracuse. The 6-19 Eagles would leave Syracuse with their seventh win and the Orange were undefeated no more.
Continuing their streak of unpredictability, the Orange lost five of their last seven, including a quick exit from the ACC tournament in their first-ever appearance.
Less than a month ago, Syracuse looked like a lock for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but injuries, poor offense and lackluster finishes made the Orange’s chances for a top seed nil.
The Orange appeared to be destined for a No. 4 or No. 5 seed. But the NCAA selection committee saw fit to reward Syracuse for its entire body of work and unpredictably, the Orange scored a No. 3 seed.
Now for the predictable, or so Syracuse fans hope.
With its first tournament game being essentially a home game in Buffalo, Thursday at 2:45 p.m. ET against Western Michigan (23-9), Syracuse can start anew and try to shake the demons of a poor finish to a wacky season.
Here’s a look at what’s in store for the Orange in the 2014 NCAA tournament.