After a disappointing NIT exit against Ole Miss last season, SU looks to return to form, but it will have to do so without four starters from last season. Here’s how The Fizz thinks 2017-18 will pan out for the Orange.
Logan Grossman: 17-14
Syracuse’s new players this season alone would be a large rotation for Jim Boeheim. With so many new faces, it could be another slow start for the Orange in the 2017-18 season. If you don’t believe that, I’ll assume you didn’t see the first half of Syracuse’s final preseason game against Southern Connecticut State. Boeheim seems to be putting a larger focus on defense this season, perhaps because he feels this team won’t be able to score much. Whatever the reason, the Orange will likely be playing, or at least trying to play, low scoring games. With so much inexperience in the 2-3 zone, this could spell trouble, especially early on. In a loaded ACC conference, the Orange are facing another massive uphill battle just to make the NCAA tournament. At the risk of sounding foolish, I’m penciling the Orange into the NIT.
Tyler Aki: 16-15
This is going to be a tough one for the Orange. The ACC is just too good this year and Syracuse is in the middle of transition. Losing four starters is never a good start. SU is going to need the freshman to learn quickly this season, or else it could fall into a deep hole early against some quality non-conference opponents. Once conference play comes around, it’s big game after big game against ridiculously talented opponents. SU should start the season hot, but once you get to games against Kansas and Maryland, Syracuse will have its hands full. The Orange’s conference slate is super tough out of the gate, and an 0-4 start is not out of the question. The frustrations of a long, tough season could catch up to this young team at that point. But if the new guys pan out a lot earlier than expected, this could be a completely different team. But until we see that, there is little reason to believe this team is going dancing in March.
Drew Carter: 16-15
You know how in movies and TV shows, every time a character yells, “Could this day get any worse?!” the heavens open and it starts to thunderstorm? That could be a metaphor for the upcoming Syracuse basketball season. It felt like last year was rock bottom: a brutal non-conference performance featuring five losses, the most in Jim Boeheim’s career; flashes of tantalizing potential followed by head-scratching losses; a snub from the NCAA Tournament. But the Orange projects to fare even worse in 2017-18, especially offensively, after losing six of its top seven scorers. The beacon of hope comes from the other end of the floor, where SU wreaked havoc in exhibition games and features the long, athletic personnel to terrorize opposing offenses. But Syracuse is the rare program in which may be harder for new players to acclimate themselves on defense (in a man-to-man scheme, freshmen can rely on athleticism) than offense. The talent for a ferocious 2-3 zone is there; the continuity may not be. By the time the new-look Orange meshes, it will be too late to save its résumé. Boeheim’s bunch misses out on the Big Dance for the second year in a row.
Jonathon Hoppe: 19-12
JD Raucci: 17-14