It’s been quite some time since there was a sense of optimism this high for Syracuse athletics. In fact, you have to flash back to 2001 to find the last time both SU basketball and football were ranked teams. But after last week’s College Football Playoff reveal and the preseason AP basketball poll, both Orange squads are inside their respective top 25s. After last night’s CFP show slotted SU as the 13th best team in the country and hoops checking in at 16 to start the season, both teams have a chance to solidify itself as elite programs in their respective sports. With that being said, which team’s ranking will peak higher?
The Case for Basketball:
Syracuse was dominant defensively in its opener against Eastern Washington. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against or where they’re traveling from, holding a team to just 10 points in a half is out of this world good. The Orange defense is clearly one of the elites in the country, but the offense has some catching up to do. They missed a lot of shots against EWU, but those should start falling as the season progresses. The ceiling of this team is a national title contender, but the tournament is a massive fluke and doesn’t always crown the best team. The Orange also has a gauntlet of an ACC slate by doubling up with Duke and Clemson. The conference schedule may be too tough to truly elevate Syracuse high into the top 10, but the Orange certainly has the potential to break into the backend of the top 10. The schedule gives them opportunities to win a lot of games early on (including a potential marquee matchup with Oregon) as well as big rankings shifting matchups in ACC play.
The Case for Football:
We never thought the Orange would get to this point, but alas, this is why they play the games. Syracuse is a Notre Dame win away from becoming a top 7 team in the country with a chance to move up if they can double down and win against a ranked Boston College team. Teams ahead of Syracuse are going to lose. That’s not a hypothetical, it’s a given fact because of conference championships. The Orange can rise a spot or two with a dominating win against Louisville, but at the end of the day it all hinges on what SU does against Notre Dame. If Syracuse can beat Notre Dame (which is certainly in the cards), they will be the top dog amongst Orange sports.
The Verdict: Syracuse Football
Their potential ceiling is higher amongst the two. While basketball is the only team with a chance to be crowned the national champion, football has a much better chance to elevate highest in the rankings because there is a winnable make or break game to determine the outcome.