Inside the Bracket: Orange aided by SOS

Originally Published: February 6, 2009
By Mike Hume | ESPN Insider
When it comes to cautionary tales of a team not playing a strong non-conference schedule, Syracuse has been Exhibit A for the last few years. In missing the NCAA Tournament in 2007, the Orange played a sub-par non-conference schedule. A year earlier, only a miraculous run through the Big East Tournament by the Gerry McNamara-led Orange overcame another weak schedule -- and a 7-9 conference record -- to earn an automatic bid to the bracket.

[+] EnlargeJim Boeheim
Al Bello/ALLSPORT Jim Boeheim's team scheduled much tougher this year, which could pay big dividends.
Thanks to the shortcomings of Syracuse and last year's Arizona State team, we know that a weak schedule can keep you out of the NCAA Tournament. But how much does a strong schedule help you in getting into the field?