The USA Today’s preseason coaches poll is out, and Syracuse is ranked 24th. The ACC will once again be one of (if not the) toughest conference in the nation. The ACC boasts four of the top nine teams in America, and including the Orange, five in the top 25.
Thoughts on the early look at the country’s best:
1. Kentucky – Cal reloads every year, but inexperience is always a factor. Another sluggish start?
2. Arizona – Back to being a scary good program, with excellent recruiting/coaching
3. Duke – Once again deep and talented, but how do they look without Jabari?
4. Wisconsin – Lost to Kentucky in Final Four, by far best team in B1G
5. Kansas – Bill Self just keeps stacking Big 12 titles, this year should be no different
6. North Carolina
8. Virginia – Pressure and expectations mean this is a different season than last year’s Cinderella one
10. Texas – Always lots of talent, but the Rick Barnes questions are burning. Is he a below-average coach?
11. Wichita State
14. Iowa St.
15. Connecticut – Last year was a dream season. No Napier. Likely to come back down to Earth.
16. Virginia Commonwealth – Physical, tenacious, well-coached. Just like always.
17. San Diego State
18. Michigan State
20. Ohio State
22. SMU – Larry Brown now has some big expectations. Can the Mustangs go to the next level?
24. Syracuse – Young, unproven team. But Jim Boeheim always seems to find ways for it to fit well
There’s clearly plenty of questions for the Orange coming into the season. But one thing we can always assuredly say: Syracuse will win its 20+ games. Michigan and Villanova – two top 15 teams – highlight the non-conference slate. But there’s plenty of time and push overs for the Orange to learn themselves. The ACC is once again strong and deep, but coming to the Carrier Dome will always psych out some unsuspecting teams, and Boeheim’s 2-3 zone will discombobulate a few foes along the way.
The biggest question is who carries the load this year after another departure of NBA talent like Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant, and a do-it-all leader in CJ Fair. It’ll likely be up to the freshman and sophomore classes to carry the heaviest burden, but with a number of amazing athletes on the roster, the potential is there.