Syracuse was dealt a No. 3 seed and assigned to a South Regional pod in Buffalo in the NCAA Tournament pairings announced Sunday evening.
The Orange (27-5) drew a first-round game against Mid-American Conference champion Western Michigan (23-9) at 2:45 p.m. Thursday at First Niagara Center, with the winner facing the survivor of a Buckeye State showdown between sixth-seeded Ohio State (25-9) of the Big Ten and 11th-seeded Dayton (23-10) of the Atlantic 10 at 12:15 p.m. Thursday.
The ’Cuse was long pegged for a spot in Buffalo but uncertainty arose after the Orange lost five of its last seven games following a 25-0 start. Syracuse also appeared here in 2010 but was a No. 1 seed that year.
The other Buffalo-based bracket, part of the East Regional pod, pits No. 2 seed Villanova (28-4) against Horizon League Tournament champion Milwaukee (21-13) in the nightcap Thursday at 9:25 p.m.. The Panthers went 7-9 in conference but ran the table in the tournament and will hit town toting a five-game winning streak.
The Villanova-Milwaukee winner faces either Connecticut (26-8) of the American Athletic Conference or Atlantic 10 Tournament champion Saint Joseph’s (24-9), who meet at 6:55 p.m. Thursday. The Hawks ousted St. Bonaventure Saturday in the A-10 semifinals.