It’s early. In fact, it’s way too early. But now that the Villanova Wildcats have cut the nets in San Antonio, people are already looking forward to next season. Now, Orange fans may not find themselves in that crowd after SU lost its prized recruit, Darius Bazley, to the G-League. But a lot of experts are saying that Syracuse could make some noise next season despite a huge dent to the 2018 recruiting class. However, there is one major contingent that these way too early Top 25s are following that we have not in recent articles. All of these Orange rankings are assuming Tyus Battle returns, which is the million dollar question for Syracuse.
The worldwide leader has Syracuse at the highest of any place I have seen. Even if Battle comes back, this still seems a little ambitious to open the season with. The major disclaimer is that not just Battle, but Oshae Brissett must also return for his sophomore season. If Brissett comes back, he and Battle are both all-ACC first team candidates. Syracuse could surely finish better than ESPN’s 15th ranking, but it seems a little too high for a start.
The Athletic: Receiving Votes
Did I just break down the paywall? Shhh… The Athletic did not provide any analysis for its receiving votes teams, but it would not surprise me if the Orange started out on the outside looking in. But there was also no notion as to whether or not Battle returned. If he does not come back for his junior year, this is a fair starting point for Syracuse.
The place that nearly brought down college basketball last season was riddled with fact errors in their analysis. First, they are under the assumption that Battle is returning for his sophomore season. Then, they still have Matthew Moyer coming back despite announcing that he is transferring. I still think this is a little ambitious, especially given some of the very potent teams that sit behind SU, like LSU and UCLA.
Take this with a grain of salt. Jon Rothstein has told you to buy stock in Frank Howard during his sophomore season and that the Orange should not be a tournament team this year. And beware, Rothstein believes that Battle is coming back (I can already hear Adam Silver calling his name). Regardless, this is the closest to where Syracuse should be to start the season if Battle returns. When you bring back your entire starting lineup from a Sweet 16 team, this is makes the most sense for the Orange out of the gate.
Tyler Aki: #19
While I don’t believe that Battle is returning for his junior year, this is where I would put them if I am wrong. Again, in this era of college basketball, returning an entire starting five at a Power Five school is rare. The fact that the Orange has that potential, while only losing one player leaving is huge. The added depth, with more potentially on the way, should help the Orange so Battle, Brissett and Howard aren’t being run into the ground for 40 minutes a night. Remember, this team never cracked the Top 25 last season, so this is a big upgrade for a team off an unexpected tournament run.