When you play in the ACC, the conference schedule never provides any breaks. And that has never been more apparent that for the Orange next year. Syracuse basketball unveiled its 2018-19 non-conference opponents today. Only the opponents were released. The dates won’t be know for a little while longer.
Here’s what you need to know:
Home and Away: Boston College, Pitt, Duke and Clemson
Well, well, well. Syracuse lands the projected top team in the ACC two times this season. If Darius Bazley was still with the team, this would have been a matchup worth salivating for and certainly would have been the game of the week. Duke likely returns zero starters, but Coach K has taken the one and done era in stride and retooled. The Blue Devils bring in the nation’s top three recruits in RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson. Syracuse already knew it was getting Duke at home, but the trip to Cameron should provide a good test to where this Orange team is in the ACC.
Along with Duke, Clemson returns a lot of key pieces to one of the program’s best teams of all time. Brad Brownell helped this program emerge and nearly brought it to another level with the Tigers being in the running for Williamson. But without a heralded recruit in its class, Clemson remains a back end top 25 team, which still blows away program standards.
Finally, Pitt and Boston College were known double dates for Syracuse. Will Pitt even have enough players to field a team? That’s the (kinda) burning question for new coach Jeff Capel. Meanwhile, BC’s success hinges on the return of Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman, who both are testing their luck in the NBA Draft. But if both come back, the Eagles are one of the most intriguing teams in the conference.
Home: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, Virginia
Talk about ideal places to escape the middle of a central New York winter. The Orange misses out on traveling to both Florida ACC schools during January, February and March. Along with that, Atlanta holds mid to high 50s during the winter.
Syracuse will also host Chris Mack and Louisville, which means that both new coaches (Jeff Capel at Pitt) in the ACC will get a taste of the Carrier Dome.
Lastly, Tony Bennett’s Virginia team is on a monumental revenge tour after its shocking first round loss to brutally annoying social media user and 16th seeded UMBC. It’s definitely better to get the Cavaliers at home as opposed to Charlottesville given the difficulty of winning road games in the ACC.
Away: North Carolina, Notre Dame, NC State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest
So while Syracuse drew the short end of the stick on the state of Florida, it hit the Carolina lottery. The Orange travels to every school in the conference in North and South Carolina. And there’s a lot of them. Five to be exact.
Syracuse has never beaten UNC in Chapel Hill and has only topped the Tar Heels one time since joining the ACC. Invading the Dean Dome will be a tough task once again. Roy Williams locked up top 10 recruit Nassir Little who has dominated the high school showcase scene. He won the McDonald’s All-American Game MVP and also won co-MVP for the Jordan Brand Classic.
Notre Dame needs a lot of retooling after graduating Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, but like Jim Boeheim is for SU, head coach Mike Brey is the great equalizer for the Irish.
The rest of the road teams return most of, if not all, their talent from last season. Virginia Tech is the most daunting of the other three. But again, being on the road levels the playing field, especially in this conference. Anyone can beat anyone in the ACC (unless you’re Kevin Stallings).