This week’s 2K Classic renews a rivalry in its rightful venue. But Syracuse’s next opponent is going to feel a little out of place at Madison Square Garden. The Orange will play the team in the Oregon vs. Iowa matchup with the corresponding result of their own game. Regardless, there are opportunities for the Orange to build up a strong early season strength of schedule. SU has a chance to build a strong March resume from its non-conference schedule and potentially elevate into the top 10 this week.
UConn: This is the only known opponent for the Orange this week. The Huskies are a program trying to rebound from absolute turmoil. UConn has gone back-to-back seasons without an NCAA Tournament bid and fired head coach Kevin Ollie with cause because of NCAA violations. Enter Dan Hurley. The Trae Young slayer in last year’s tournament with Rhode Island takes over in his first season in Storrs. He is also going to be the 32nd player to both play and coach against Jim Boeheim. Ironically, number 31 was his brother Bobby with Arizona State in last year’s First Four. The Huskies return a hefty scoring punch with Jalen Adams and Christian Vital, who were the highest scoring tandem in the AAC last season. But UConn only brings in one recruit to its 2018 class trying to rebuild from a dismal 14-18 season.
Oregon: The Ducks and the Orange are by far and away the best two teams in this tournament. But they do it in different ways. Syracuse is the veteran team that returns a lot of starters. Meanwhile, Oregon boasts the third best recruiting class in 2018. That features Bol Bol, who looks like a college version of Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s 7-foot-2 with the athleticism of an elite wing and the handle and shooting of a guard. Don’t believe me? Watch the video below:
Bol Bol is out here looking like a 7'2" guard 🔥 pic.twitter.com/CcFsLzjQVd
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 2, 2018
Yeah, he’s that good. Along with Bol, Oregon also has four other top 100 recruits and some key returning pieces. Former Syracuse target Louis King will not play this week and isn’t expected back until early December. But Will Richardson and Francis Okoro have given the Ducks solid contributions. Dana Altman and company also return key pieces in leading scorer Payton Pritchard and forward Paul White. Oregon should handle business against Iowa as Syracuse should with UConn to set up a top 15 matchup at the Garden on Friday.
Iowa: Just like Syracuse, Iowa is one of four teams in the country to return all five starters. The difference though is that the Hawkeyes 14-19 and 4-14 in a subpar Big Ten last season. Iowa is headlined by Tyler Cook and Jordan Bohannon, who provide two very different things. They both score and led the team in points last year, but Cook does it inside while Bohannon shot 43 percent from deep last year. Cook also is an excellent rebounder who came close to averaging a double-double last season.