ESPN.com likes to put out an annual preseason rankings before the body is cold on the existing season. Villanova is the champion, a cool nod to the old Big East. ESPN slotted Duke as the best team going into next year, and put the Orange at #17.
17. Syracuse Orange
Syracuse lost 14 games this season. It also went to the Final Four. It was a weird 2015-16 across the board, but the freshmen who helped fuel the Orange’s late-season explosion — Tyler Lydon and Malachi Richardson, namely — look likely to get this program back into its top-25 comfort zone. Seniors Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije are gone, sure, but assuming Richardson doesn’t jump to the draft (and he was noncommital on the topic Saturday night) Jim Boeheim’s blend of returners and newcomers (from freshmen Tyus Battle and Matthew Moyer to former Providence center Paschal Chukwu) won’t be sweating it out again on Selection Sunday.
In some ways this incredible run is just a bonus for SU fans. The 9 game suspension for Jim Boeheim sucked a lot of the excitement out of the season, plus the unknown of how the young players would adjust. It took time, but eventually they found their groove in March.
If Malachi and Lydon are staying, and Battle and Moyer are coming, the expectations will be right back up there for this upcoming season. Hey, let the good times roll.
Posted: Damon Amendolara