5: vs Virginia on Saturday, Feb. 3:
Our lists begins with a Tony Bennett-Jim Boeheim showdown in the Carrier Dome. Last year, on an eerily similar date Syracuse got the last laugh and kinda, sorta gave Jim Boeheim his 1,000th win. And before that Malachi Richardson and Boeheim’s beautifully timed press carried the Orange past the Cavaliers in an elite 8 thriller. For SU to win its third straight over UVA it will likely have to come in upset fashion yet again. That might be asking a lot but one things for sure: If Syracuse is down at the half, the game is certainly not over.
4: @Georgetown, Dec. 16:
Unfortunately this game doesn’t have the same amount of muster as it used to given SU’s switch to the ACC and the current state of both programs. However, after a let down on Pearl day in the Dome last year, every Orange fan would love to see Syracuse get revenge in D.C. this year. If SU needs any extra motivation, not capitalizing on winnable non-conference games away from the Dome last year was the reason they weren’t in the Big Dance. Syracuse needs a couple of those wins on its tournament resume this year and it would be even sweeter if one came against the Hoyas.
3: vs Kansas (neutral site), Dec. 2:
Before the Orange gets to its non-conference meeting with Georgetown, they have a 2003 National Championship game rematch against Kansas down in Miami. While a victory over KU would do wonders for SU’s tournament chances it certainly won’t be an easy task. The Jayhawks are returning 3 starters and adding five-star recruit Billy Preston (who picked Kansas over Syracuse). This could be the first time since a 2009 meeting with UNC that Syracuse plays a top-5 team before conference play begins.
2: vs North Carolina, Feb. 21:
Speaking of UNC, the Orange has a marquee showdown with the Heels in the Carrier Dome in late-February. Besides maybe Pittsburgh, no team has given Syracuse as much fits recently as North Carolina. Roy Williams has won his last five meetings against Jim Boeheim and frankly most of them haven’t been all that close. However, the Heels lost four of its top five scorers from a year ago and Syracuse has the Loud House on its side this year.
1: @Duke, Feb. 24:
Just three days after SU hosts UNC in the Carrier Dome they make a trip down south to face the other ACC juggernaut. The Duke-SU rivalry may be somewhat manufactured but it has certainly provided some great moments in a short 4 years. From the Jimbo jacket toss to Tyler Roberson turning into 2008 Dwight Howard and, of course, John Gillon’s legendary Hail Mary, almost every Duke-Syracuse game has been an instant classic. Now we have to wait and see what the next installment provides. Mark your calendars, Orange Nation. After grabbing the last two to even the series at three apiece, Boeheim and company are going to Coach K’s court for Game 7 on February 24th.