College Basketball Bubble Watch

Updated: February 19, 2016, 8:57 AM ET
By Eamonn Brennan | ESPN.com


How much weight does the 'Boeheim Boost' carry for Syracuse?

At the time, it was all hypothetical. The variables were hard to isolate. The sample size was still small.

Had Syracuse gone 4-5 while Jim Boeheim served his nine-game suspension because of his absence? Or had the Orange, whose hot shooting carried them to a Battle 4 Atlantis title during a 6-1 start, simply gone cold? The question of whether or how his absence could affect Syracuse's NCAA tournament chances -- not only on the court but in the selection committee's perception of the team -- was a thought experiment at best.

In early January, just days before Boeheim was set to return to the bench, Syracuse Post-Standard writer Mike Waters spoke to NCAA selection committee chair Joe Castiglione, who helpfully set the parameters within which the next two months of Syracuse basketball would be judged.

Essentially, the committee will look at Syracuse's performance with and without its coach in the same way it assesses teams with injured and suspended players. "By the end of the season," Castiglione wrote, "we'll have an idea of what sort of impact the suspension possibly had."

We don't need to wait that long. Boeheim's "impact" is massive. Gargantuan. Revelatory. Night and day.

Pick your superlative, and it will probably work, because … well, just look at these splits:

Syracuse without Boeheim
Record: 4-5
ACC record: 0-3
Best win: Texas Southern
Losses: at Georgetown, at St. John's (RPI: 205), at Pittsburgh, at Miami, vs. Clemson

Syracuse with Boeheim
Record: 14-4
ACC record: 8-3
Best win: at Duke
Losses: vs. Wisconsin, vs. North Carolina, at Virginia, at Louisville

The latter category also includes wins over Connecticut and Texas A&M in November and Jan. 28's 81-66 home win over Notre Dame. If you strip out Boeheim's suspension from Syracuse's resume, and pretend momentarily that we're just 18 games into the season, Boeheim's team would be 5-4 against the RPI top 50. Its only sub-50 RPI losses -- Georgetown, Clemson and the St. John's eyesore -- wouldn't exist.

These might as well be two different teams.

There's nothing muddy or difficult to parse in there. Boeheim's impact will be immensely easy for the committee to quantify come Selection Sunday. The only question is how it will go about doing so. Will the committee diminish the weight of the games during the suspension on Syracuse's nitty-gritty sheet? How will it factor them in? Or is that stretch so unrepresentative of the Orange's quality that it deserves to be tossed aside altogether?

The good news for Cuse fans: Even if the committee told them that Boeheim's absence didn't matter -- tough cookies, and all that -- his team has done more than enough to get into the tournament as of today. Where they'll end up, and why, remains a fascinating question.

Either way, we've learned this much: A guy with almost 1,000 career wins is, in fact, important to his team's chances of winning. Case closed.