Syracuse athletics has announced eight of the team’s 13 non-conference games for the 2018-19 season. Not included in those eight is a road game at Georgetown, which Syracuse.com has reported is likely slated for Dec. 8th, and another likely installment of the SU/Colgate “rivalry.” Counting those two inevitable additions, SU has three open games left on its non-conference slate. Here’s what we know so far and how it shapes up.
Nov. 6th: Eastern Washington
This is almost definitely going to be the opener. Last year SU played an exhibition game on this date. Eastern Washington should be an easy win in the RPI range of 150-200.
Nov. 10th: Morehead State
The first Saturday dome game of the season comes four days later. Morehead State hasn’t done anything noteworthy since the Kenneth Faried days. They are returning essentially all their scoring from last year, which was only an 8-21 ballclub.
Nov. 15th: UCONN (MSG)
Pour one out for Matt Moyer! After the rockfight two years ago and a 72-63 Moyer infested victory last year, the Huskies and Orange will meet in the Big Apple for the fourth straight year. This time, it’s apart of the 2K Sports Classic. Oregon and Iowa will also square off that night with the two winners and two losers meeting at the Mecca the following night. With their former coach in the process of possibly suing the school, things aren’t exactly looking up in Storrs. Former URI headman, Danny Hurley, will look to clean up the remnants and start from scratch with a young roster. The Huskies will also have played Morehead State as apart of the 2K Sports Classic just two days before the Orange. This will likely be the first non-mid-major game for both teams.
Nov. 16th: Oregon/Iowa (MSG)
Assuming Oregon tops Iowa, which seems likely considering the Ducks are bringing in Syracuse target Louis King, potential lottery pick Bol Bol and one of the best recruiting classes in the country, we could have a top-15 showdown on our hands. In other words, this is likely going to be SU’s best opportunity to grab a high-quadrant non-conference win that could look real nice come tourney time.
Iowa, by the way, is returning almost its entire team from last year and should be in the NCAA tourney conversation. So regardless of what happens on Thursday night, Syracuse will play two decent teams (at the very least) on back-to-back nights at a neutral site.
Nov. 28th: @Ohio State
Then, there’s a gap before another power six game. You’d have to imagine SU will schedule at least one, if not two games before the BIG/ACC challenge matchup in Columbus.
The Darius Bazley Reject Bowl is intact. https://t.co/SmmPhaiYrl
— Orange Fizz (@OrangeFizz) May 31, 2018
The Buckeyes won’t have their leader Keita-Bates-Diop anymore. However, with the return of double digit scorer CJ Jackson and the addition of Wake Forest grad transfer Keyshawn Woods, OSU will be solid. This is SU’s first road test of the season and as we learned in 2016-17, the committee wants the Orange to prove it can win some quality games away from the Dome.
Dec. 1st: Cornell
With family bragging rights up in the air, Jim and Buddy will take on Jimmy to kick off the month of december. Personally, I think Buddy redshirts. Regardless, they will all be out there in some capacity and it will be a cool moment for the family that should end with an easy Syracuse victory.
Dec. 8th: Georgetown (date not confirmed)
By all accounts, Georgetown is probably not going to be good at basketball again next year. Then again, they weren’t good at basketball when they came into the Dome and spoiled Pearl Washington day two years ago. At least this time the game is scheduled when the students are actually on campus. It should be the first big Dome crowd of the season and a chance for a much more talented Orange team to pick up a top 100 RPI win on a Saturday.
Dec. 15th: Old Dominion
After Georgetown, SU’s next game will be Old Dominion. In between the two is finals week on campus so one of the four open games (including Colgate) won’t go there.
The Monarchs could be a tournament team. They went 25-7 last year and will be a pesky tough out at the loud house. That being said, SU should be double digit favorites going in and presumably have any kinks worked out by mid-December.
Dec. 18th: Buffalo
This is the early candidate for “scary trap game of the 2018-19 non-conference schedule.” We all remember Buffalo’s scare last year. Given that and they’re tourney victory over Arizona, they will definitely enter the Dome expecting to win.
On the flip side, given they’re bringing back two key seniors and should be a top-tier mid-major again, this game likely provides a good chance to pick up another quality RPI win like last year.
November 20th feels like a potential date for SU’s annual meeting with Colgate. Ideally, you would like to break up the schedule and put in a couple easy games around that timeframe so you don’t have three power six games in a row.
That leaves three non-conference games to fill. Eastern Michigan seems like a strong possibility, especially considering head coach Rob Murphy’s connection to Syracuse and they’ve been a mainstay on the schedule since he got to EMU. My prediction is a game is slated against them around Dec 27th/28th range, which would be the last non-conference game of the season.
If the Orange is looking for another cupcake type game some potential opponents that they’ve played in years past include: Holy Cross, Binghamton, High Point, and Boston University. One of those games could go in the Dec 21/22 range before the players are off to celebrate the holiday.
The question for the last three games really comes down to how tough SU thinks it’s schedule is going to be already. If they think Oregon is going to be a legit game and UCONN, Ohio State and Georgetown is enough then they would probably pick a couple more schools of the Eastern Michigan/Boston University type.
If they’re looking for another RPI booster, a game against a potential mid-major tournament team is probably in order. Maybe another outing with Iona or Monmouth. Either way, scheduling a game with a fellow power six team at this stage of the game is unlikely.
If I had my pick and it wasn’t unrealistic, I would try to get a game against Villanova. Why not start an annual home/home type thing like what’s going on with Georgetown. The Wildcats are the best program in the country right now and losing to them isn’t going to hurt your resume. Best case scenario: it puts to bed the lazy narrative that Boeheim doesn’t play anyone in non-conference and improves your strength of schedule come tournament time. That’s not going to happen this year but I wouldn’t be opposed to another partnership with a former Big East school being slated in the future (just as long as it’s not St Johns).
Who do you want Syracuse to round out it’s schedule with? Comment below or tweet @OrangeFizz.