This summer, there’s been quite a bit to talk about in the Syracuse basketball realm. While departures and transfers hurt last year’s squad, SU’s recruiting class of ‘22 is shaping up to be one of the more (still incomplete) incoming classes in some time. Don’t forget Boeheim’s Army is continuing TBT play as well.
However, it’s worth turning our attention toward what’s on the horizon for this upcoming season. Syracuse’s non-conference schedule play is taking more shape as we get closer to Fall. This now includes the annual Georgetown matchup, announced yesterday that it will take place on December 11th. Everyone knows what’s at stake there, but what about the other matchups? Here’s a refresher of each matchup officially on the schedule.
NOTE: This article was written on July 28th, 2021. SU’s non-conference schedule dates are not fully set.
LAFAYETTE (November 9th)
Syracuse opens non-con play against a relatively unfamiliar foe. The Lafayette Leopards come to play the Orange for the first time since the 1995-96 season opener. SU won 87-63 that day behind a team-leading 20 points from senior John Wallace, to give you an idea of how long it’s been since these two locked horns. Lafayette’s 2020 was jittery and stilted even by pandemic standards: they won the Central Division of a hastily divided Patriot League despite six postponements.
Syracuse leads this all-time series 8-0 and should coast to 9-0 to get things going in 2021.
DREXEL (November 14th)
Drexel is next up and, like Lafayette, doesn’t have a ton of history against the Orange. The two have battled just four times ever beginning in 1995, and SU leads the series 3-1 – but that one SU loss was a doozy. #23 Syracuse was upset by unranked Drexel back in 2006, but it now serves as a footnote in a season decimated by vacated wins.
Drexel finished 12-8 last season and played as a 16-seed against Illinois in the tourney, but predictably bombed out in the first round. This might be a stiffer test than Lafayette, but not by much. Expect an SU win here.
COLGATE (November 20th)
Colgate is a uniquely consistent and fairly relaxing feature of Syracuse’s non-conference slate. Only four teams have played SU more times than Colgate has (80 total games between the two), but the Raiders have been an annuity for the Orange – they’re 54-0 against Colgate since 1962. Barring disaster, that mark should go to 55-0 this Fall.
INDIANA (November 30th)
Here’s where things start to get interesting. Indiana plays SU in the Big 10/ACC Challenge for just the 7th all-time meeting between the two programs, and these games usually mean something: in the previous six meetings, both teams were ranked every time except one (#4 SU vs. unranked IU on 12/3/13). That includes the 1987 National Championship and SU’s 2013 Sweet Sixteen upset victory. These are usually barnburners.
IU didn’t make the tournament last year, and that spelled the end for Archie Miller as head coach of the Hoosiers. Mike Woodson is now the head man, and he’s become a hero in Bloomington after unexpectedly impressing and convincing star junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis to stay at Indiana. After some tough years, this is an IU team that might be re-energized and ready to re-enter the contending fray. Expect a coin flip game here between two evenly matched teams.
GEORGETOWN (December 11th)
This is a big one. Georgetown is always on the schedule, but the date was finally announced yesterday. There isn’t much to say here. Both Georgetown and SU made the tourney last year, and this figures to be another tooth-and-nail game between longtime rivals. After all, of all the teams Syracuse has played 30 or more times in their history, they have the lowest winning percentage (.529) against the Hoyas.
Georgetown is without last year’s leading scorers in Jahvon Blair (graduated) and Qudus Wahab (transferred to Maryland), but these two teams always save their best for each other. Expect more of the same this December.
LEHIGH (December 18th)
Rounding things out, the Orange play Lehigh for just the second time ever (the first time was 2015). The Mountain Hawks finished 4-11 last year, so an Orange victory is pretty likely here. Just hope the Orange don’t look too far ahead at conference play and stumble.