Syracuse earns No. 4 seed, date with Vermont in NCAA Tournament
After four long days filled with statistical analysis, RPI comparison and strength of schedule debate, the NCAA Tournament selection committee emerged from its 15th floor suite at the Indianapolis Westin on Sunday. The 2005 bracket it announced will be the talk of every office lunch break in the country today.
Syracuse, a No. 4 seed in the Austin regional, will open the field of 65 against Vermont, a No.13 seed, Friday in Worcester, Mass. Syracuse’s Big East conference championship win Saturday no doubt influenced the committee’s decision to keep SU in the Northeast while sending Boston College, also a No. 4 seed, to Chicago.
‘Obviously I think we helped ourselves in (the Big East tournament) a little bit,’ SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘It’s good for our fans to not be too far away for the first two games and get to Worcester. The way we played in New York certainly put ourselves into the type of mode we are going to have to play in the NCAA Tournament.’
The Vermont Catamounts (24-6, 16-2 America East), who won their third straight America East title on Saturday, should not be easily overlooked. Vermont has two offensive weapons that should be feared in any conference in Taylor Coppenrath and T.J. Sorrentine.
Coppenrath had 37 points and nine rebounds in Vermont’s 80-57 win over Northeastern on Saturday. The 6-foot-9 forward who has a sweet 3-point stroke is being considered for several player of the year awards with SU’s Hakim Warrick.
‘I know they have a pretty good player in Taylor Coppenrath,’ Warrick said of the Catamounts. ‘I know we will really need to get out and challenge their shooters and not give them any open looks.’
Meanwhile, Sorrentine scores 18.5 points per game from the point. He is also a 2005 All-America East first team selection.
Should Syracuse (27-6, 11-5 Big East) advance past Vermont, its road to the Final Four will only get harder. The winner of SU-UVM will play the winner of another Worcester matchup between Michigan State, a No. 5 seed, and Old Dominion, a No. 12 seed.
The top two seeds in the Austin bracket are No. 1 seeded Duke and No. 2 seeded Kentucky.
‘It’s a tough job to decide who gets in now because there are just too many good teams in college basketball,’ Boeheim said. ‘More and more good teams are being left out of the tournament now. It used to be just a couple and now just a lot of really good teams out there don’t get in.’
Six Big East teams made the NCAA tournament including Connecticut and Villanova, a No. 2 seed and a No. 5 seed, respectively, in the Syracuse regional. North Carolina, the No. 1 seed in the Syracuse regional, and Kansas, the No. 3 seed in the Syracuse regional are also favorites to make it to the Sweet 16. SU will host its first Regional since 2002, when Maryland emerged from the bracket to win the National Championship. For tickets to SU’s game vs. Vermont, members of the Dave Bing Fund and Carrier Dome Box holders must call the Orange Pack office (315-443-1419 or 315-443-2054) between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on March 14 to place a ticket order. Tickets are $55 each.
If any tickets remain, fans must go to the Carrier Dome Box Office (Gate B) to purchase them. All seats will be assigned based on Orange Pack priority points.
‘It’s tough playing Vermont (in Worcester),’ Boeheim said. ‘It’s close for us, but it’s closer for them. That would be a tough game wherever we played, no less (in Worcester).’
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