With the addition of Cornell to the matchup slate, the men’s basketball team now has finalized its non-conference portion of the schedule.
The Orange and Big Red are long-time rivals and will play on New Year’s Eve. Syracuse has beaten Cornell in 34 straight contests.
As a whole, the non-conference seems overly simple, with the exception of two potential speed bumps. The Orange will have to travel to Ann Arbor to play the Michigan Wolverines as part of the Big Ten/ACC challenge. They will also have to match up with either Texas or Iowa in the 2K Sports Classic, assuming they beat Cal at Madison Square Garden the day before.
The Orange will play in the dome nine times before conference play starts and will play only two “true road” games. While the 2K Sports Classic is in New York City on a neutral court; Madison Square Garden has become nearly a home game for Syracuse. The Orange will also have to travel to Philadelphia to play Villanova in the second year of a home-and-home series.
Other than the notable games mentioned above, it isn’t hard to see the Orange winning every other game along the way (with a couple of patented Syracuse scares, of course). The likes of Loyola, Holy Cross, St. John’s, Louisiana Tech, Colgate and Long Beach State will not prove to be too much of a challenge for the team.
Assuming the Orange wins the 2K Sports Classic, Syracuse could enter conference play with a 12-1 record. It is reasonable to assume Syracuse can beat a Villanova team that they are familiar with. The Michigan game may also not be as difficult as some are projecting. The Wolverines lost all five starters from the Final Four team two years ago and will be relying on a ton of underclassmen to step up and fill their shoes. While the same can be said for Syracuse, what remains consistent is the incredible length in the zone.
Finishing 12-1 would certainly be good for the Orange in the AP and Coaches Polls. The combined loss of Tyler Ennis, Jerami Grant, and CJ Fair is enough for voters to bump the Orange outside of the poll. However, a strong start combined with some early losses by the top teams could vault the team into the top-15 in time for ACC play, which will be tough.
Posted by: Jason Weingold