The ACC proves tough year in and year out. There’s conversation throughout every basketball season leading up to conference play regarding how well Syracuse will do, if they have what it takes to compete, and whatnot. A great tell prior to that competition are the non-conference games SU plays. We’ve seen them struggle in some of those games recently. This past season it was Rutgers that gave Syracuse trouble early on, in 2019 it was both Oklahoma St. and Penn St. in the NIT season tip-off, and if you want to go all the way back to 2018 you’ll remember Jalen Carey getting way too many minutes in an embarrassing loss to UCONN.
All we know so far this year is Syracuse will play:
Lafayette on November 9th – Carrier Dome
Drexel on November 14th – Carrier Dome
Indiana on November 30th – Carrier Dome
Lehigh on December 18th – Carrier Dome
So far not the strongest slate. Though can you blame them? Without a great grasp on what this roster will look like and the aforementioned recent struggles it makes sense for Boeheim and company to want to take things slow early on and get their guys ready for the ACC. That will hurt their case for the tournament, however, especially if they drop any of those games. Who else would you want to see SU take on during the non-conference slate this upcoming season? Here are a few suggestions:
Nate Oats’ Alabama squad was one of the best last regular season. The Crimson Tide had the 25th best offense in the nation and vastly improved their defense from the year prior. This game could be great on paper alone, but don’t forget the beef Boeheim and Oats had last season. If you need a refresher, Duke Hall of Fame coach, Mike Krzyzewski was questioning whether college basketball should be played amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Oats criticized him for doing so, which led Boeheim to comment on the matter. The longtime SU coach rebutted, “Mike said in the summer, and September and October, we should delay the season. For some young coach (Nate Oats), who should know better but didn’t, to suggest that Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t want to play because he lost a couple of games? He’s only won 1,100.” It could be pretty exciting to watch the two in the same building after that.
The Bonnies have quietly become one of the best teams the A-10 has to offer. Syracuse knows that, as the last time the two met back in 2017, the Orange fell in overtime on the home floor. A win in a game against St. Bonaventure would 1. Prove to be a revenge win and 2. Be a really nice win to add to the resume. Many outlets have been listing the Bonnies in their pre-season top-25’s at around #20. It would absolutely be a resume-building win.
Finally a former Big East Rival on this list. There’s so much history in this matchup, for the Orange not to have faced off against the Johnnies since 2016 seems a tad bit criminal. You probably try to forget the last time, Syracuse took on the Red Storm. It was December of 2016, Shamorie Ponds came to the Dome and trounced the Orange. St. Johns rolled away with a 93-60 win. It’s time for Syracuse to schedule that rematch. Not to mention it would pump some nostalgia into the college basketball world. Why not a home and home? Recruits from the NYC area could get a chance to watch SU without having to travel up to the tundra.
Who else would you want to see Syracuse take on this season on the non-conference circuit? Tweet your ideas at us on Twitter @OrangeFizz.