Monday was a day that college basketball fans across the country were waiting for. Weeks after several key non-conference games were announced, the ACC finally released its conference schedule, meaning Syracuse now has a complete, finalized basketball schedule. Of course, the Orange have known who they were going to play and where for some time, but now the important matter of when has been determined.
January 16, 2017: Syracuse @ North Carolina¬†
It is a rematch of the 2016 Final Four game which saw the Tar Heels end the Orange’s miracle tournament run. There is no doubt that the Orange will be out for vengeance, and on paper, this Syracuse team should be more competitive with the high-powered Heels. While the Orange do have notable ACC games prior to this (Syracuse hosts Miami and Pitt on January 4th and 7th respectively), but this is the first massive test against one of the old blue bloods of the ACC.
February 4th, 2017: Virginia @ Syracuse¬†
One could certainly argue that the Orange’s next big game after the one in Chapel Hill is the one immediately following, against Notre Dame. However, if Syracuse fans (and Boeheim) are right in their thinking that this Syracuse team is the best one in years, then the focus will and should be on the biggest threats to the ACC crown. One of those has to be UVA who won the ACC tournament in 2014 and fell in the championship game in March to UNC. Also, this game has the added incentive of being an NCAA tournament rematch. The Orange shocked the Cavaliers in Chicago in the Elite Eight after Malachi Richardson went on the ridiculous scoring run that arguably landed him in the NBA. Tony Bennett will be looking to reestablish his team’s recent dominance over Boeheim’s Orange.
February 22, 2017: Duke @ Syracuse ¬†
Does this match-up even need a little blurb? Can anyone do this matchup justice in so few words. There will be more than 35,000 Orange clad fans in the Carrier Dome on a Wednesday night in February to watch two of the most successful college basketball coaches of all-time do battle yet again. After the first ACC match-up between these schools in 2014, many thought it would be impossible for it to continue to be so spectacular. Well, it seems that the rivalry has only gotten better as the Orange handed Duke its third straight conference loss at Cameron Indoor last season (the first time that has ever happened to Coach K). This game comes towards of the end of the season and it is very possible, maybe even likely,¬†that this game will have significant implications in terms of the regular-season champion. I’m sure I won’t be the only one who has a countdown to this game hanging in my room.
P.S. There are 162 days until this game.
There are plenty of other games on the conference schedule that are sure to be doozys. It is the ACC after all. These three games seem like the obvious choices, but the story lines present in them are undeniable. Is it basketball season yet?