Tyler Aki: 23-8 (12-6)
This year is going to feel like the Syracuse teams of old. There won’t be a limp into the tournament in 2019. The Orange rolls back all five starters from one of the best defenses in the country. Syracuse has a top 3 defense in the country coming into this season, which bodes well against an ACC that is going to pose challenges every single night. But unlike last year’s team, there are a bevy of scorers. Elijah Hughes may be the best offensive player on the Orange for the upcoming season. That takes pressure off the shoulders of last year’s big three of Tyus Battle, Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett, who will all have more efficient seasons than last year. Couple that with Buddy Boeheim proving he can really shoot the ball and Jalen Carey’s scoring ability, the Orange should have one of the better offenses in the country to pair with an elite defense. Getting into the tournament should be a breeze, and a Final Four trip is very much in the cards. Plus, isn’t the Orange destined to spend their late March and early April in the similarly climated Minneapolis?
JD Raucci: 24-7 (13-5)
After a lot of doom and gloom before the 2017-18 season began, there’s a whole lot more reason for optimism with this year’s Syracuse squad and the win total should see a pretty significant increase as a result. All five starters return from a year ago, so the defense should be just as good if not better than it was last season, but what’s really going to make this thing go is the rejuvenated offense. It’s hard to describe just how abysmal the SU offense was at times last year, but with budding superstar Elijah Hughes and prodigal son Buddy Boeheim in tow to go along with the 5+ returners, there should be a lot more scoring from the Orange this season. Expect this team to perform very similarly to how it did in last year’s non-conference (an 11-2 mark) while getting a big boost in conference play where upsets against the likes of Duke, UNC and Virginia seem more possible than ever before. Tough stretches in late January (@ Virginia Tech, @ Boston College, @ Pitt in 8 days) and the end of the season (four of last five vs Duke, UNC, Virginia and Clemson) are going to be big litmus tests for this Orange squad, but with the talent they have at their disposal and Jim Boeheim at the helm, they should be able to get through them and lock up a top-5 NCAA Tournament seed.
Tim Leonard: 22-9 (11-7)
Look, It’s easy to say “well SU was a sweet 16 team last year and they are bringing everyone back.” But let’s not forget how bad that team looked on offense at times. Yes, Elijah Hughes is an added bonus and they have way more three-point shooting. Hughes’ shot selection still scares me, though, and you just get the feeling he’s going to spend some time in the Jim doghouse this season. The frontcourt depth also scares me. Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe are really the only two true centers you can put out there and both of them are scoring liabilities, especially against the UNC and UVA’s of the world. I’m still very high on this teams tournament prospects, which is really all that matters at the end of the day. I expect Oshae Brissett to take a massive leap and maybe even lead this team in scoring and Buddy Boeheim to dazzle. They are still going to be really solid. Probably hold a top-25 ranking throughout a good chunk of the season and set themselves up for another tournament run. The floor is much higher for this team than any of the previous four SU teams. Their ceiling will come down to how much they improve on offense.
Jonathon Hoppe: 23-8 (13-5)
This should be a huge season of Syracuse Basketball. However, the Orange has to overcome steep preseason expectations. As you may remember, that didn’t go so well two years ago. This is a new year. The talent on this team is hard to deny. Baring injuries, this is a team that should be in the mix for a one or two seed in the NCAA Tournament. With several talented additions, the offense will be much improved. Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim alone will bring a dynamic to the Orange that they so desperately missed a year ago: three point shooting. This should be fun.
David Edelstein: 23-8 (11-7)
Returning all fine starters this season, Syracuse basketball is primed to shine. And with an improved bench that includes Jalen Carey, Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim, the Orange have a chance to improve on a Sweet Sixteen season and make an impact in 2018-2019. This doesn’t come without fault, however. SU has shown it can make mistakes and fall into slumps along the way. Expect a bunch of wins early in the season before things get shaken up a bit as ACC play kicks in. There is a long road ahead, and Syracuse should largely dominate opponents. There are some tough games to be played, and they will be all the more exciting this season.
Harrison Singer: 23-7 (12-6)
The Orange made the Sweet 16 last year after going 19-12 in the regular season. This year, Syracuse has a chance to go even further, and do it with a better record. Conference play won’t be a cakewalk, but the Orange should get through most of its games beforehand without too many problems. However, in ACC play, challenges include (but are certainly not limited to) at Notre Dame, at North Carolina, at Virginia Tech, two games against Duke, and a home matchup with Virginia. Simply put, expectations for this year’s team are high, and SU will definitely get plenty of chances to either meet or fail them. In the end, I think this team carves through its tough schedule and perhaps a few NCAA Tournament games as well.
Gill Gross: 25-6
There’s so much to like here. Syracuse should rival Virginia as the best defensive team in the country. Last year’s stifling 2-3 zone personnel is back, and new found depth will only allow for extra work ethic on the defensive end, given increased minutes distribution. Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett provide the top-end talent that can let Syracuse compete with anyone, but it’s the added pieces that make this group so promising. Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim both look ready to contribute based on the exhibition games. Jalen Carey is a top-30 recruit. Opposing teams won’t be able to focus entirely on defending Battle and Brissett this season, and they won’t be able to collapse inside and watch the Orange brick three-point attempts. SU’s only weaknesses are a lack of scoring at the four and five positions, and no true distributor at the point guard position unless Carey can be that player. Syracuse is a top 3 seed at this year’s NCAA Tournament.