After a (surprise) Sweet 16 run last season, Syracuse was in everyone’s “way-too-early top 25.” The Orange had plenty of youth, fueled by the sweet-shooting of Buddy Boeheim, and the father-son/coach-player dynamic quickly became one of the nation’s favorite storylines. However, after a rollercoaster of a couple of weeks that saw five players enter the transfer portal and Marek Dolezaj and Alan Griffin turn pro, the roster looks largely different. That changes the national outlook. Let’s go through SU’s rankings in the “way-too-early top 25.”
16. Syracuse. Buddy Boeheim (17.8 ppg) went on a three-point shooting tear at the end of 2020-21 to¬†guide the Orange off the NCAA Tournament bubble and into the Sweet 16. The sharp-shooting guard¬†will be back, with his supporting cast of¬†Quincy Guerrier, Alan Griffin and Joseph Girard III. Five-star¬†Benny Williams will be extra ammunition.¬†(USA Today)
Well this is rosy. Back when everything was stable, before the portal was pulling guys in and spitting them out, SU garnered a #16 ranking, and was similarly listed in the #10-20 range in most polls. Boeheim was of course deservingly highlighted, but most outlets expected jumps from Guerrier and Griffin to help the Orange comfortably secure an NCAA tournament bid.
Jeff Goodman picked Syracuse as the team he was highest on in the upcoming season, saying “The only noteworthy senior on Syracuse’s team is Marek Dolezaj. Freshman Kadary Richmond has also committed to Seton Hall after entering the transfer portal. But the Orange should get back four of their starters, including three-point sniper Buddy Boeheim They picked up Cole Swider as a potential replacement for Dolezaj, They also signed Benny Williams.”
Goodman had the Orange at number 13 in his top 25. This is probably a bit high for a team without its best defender, but it still is warranted with Griffin and Guerrier still returning at this point in time.
After Griffin, Newton and Dolezaj announced their departures, Syracuse dropped out of many top 25s. ESPN sent SU down to the “next in line” section, just outside the rankings, and others did the same. Although Jimmy Boeheim had committed to the Orange on April 16th, many national analysts didn’t add his value into the overall scope of things.
The day after Syracuse moved to the “next in line,” Guerrier announced his intent to transfer. SU immediately dropped out of every top 25, regardless of outlet.
After the dust had mostly settled in the transfer portal, here’s what Busting Brackets has to say about the Orange.
“I have the Orange sitting at 22 but would it surprised me if they end up unranked, get a 12 seed, and then find themselves in the Elite 8? Not at all.
Going into 2021-2022, Cuse should have super high expectations. Welcome to the Buddy Boeheim show. The Orange are going to live and die by his success. Last year they were just 3-6 whenever he scored under 15 points. I expect something similar. Boeheim really has a chance to show NBA scouts that he can play at the next level. I expect to see his name on one of the first two All-ACC teams when the season concludes.
Joe Giard is the perfect complement to Boeheim. A pass-first true point guard who creates space for him being a three-point threat himself. Cole Swider comes transfers over after three seasons with Villanova. Coming off the bench he averaged a smidge over five points a night. Most of his contributions were felt more on the defensive end.
Jim Boeheim‚Äôs other son, Jimmy, is transferring from Cornell to play under his dad for his final year of college. Averaging 16.7 points per game at Cornell, nobody really knows what his role with be with the Orange.
If he can step outside and knock down a couple of threes a night I am sure his dad will be satisfied. I can see the Orange cracking the top 15 as the season goes on but as I referenced earlier, it wouldn‚Äôt surprise me to see them as a double-digit Elite 8 team either.”
For most in CNY, the feeling is the same. It feels like after what felt like a terrible start to the offseason, the Orange are back to where they started: on the bubble.