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SU’s Final Non-Con Games Now Look Like Important Tests

Credit Mark Konezny/USA TODAY Sports

The first loss of Syracuse men’s basketball’s 2021-22 season came as a surprising thud. Jim Boeheim’s first-ever career loss to Colgate was a true shocker and threw cold water on the teams’ early-season honeymoon period. All of a sudden, a team the Fizz picked to make strides after last year looked vulnerable.

We wrote pretty extensively about why that loss happened. The Orange saw bad games from some of its usual starters, didn’t get much off the bench, and fell victim to a barrage of three-pointers. That’s a good recipe for the 2-3 zone to topple against any team. It’s incredibly early in the season, and ‘Cuse isn’t the only team to lose so-called gimme games – but it’d better hope to get things straightened out before a daunting 11-day stretch coming up in its schedule.

“Defensively, we’re not winning any games if this is the defense … we obviously have to be a lot better.” (Jim Boeheim 11/20/21 postgame)

From November 30th to December 11th, Syracuse plays four games. All four are tough matchups and will go quite a way in telling us what type of SU team this truly is. 

Indiana comes first on November 30th when first-year head coach Mike Woodson and company trek up to the Dome. The former Knick has been walking on water down in Bloomington ever since convincing star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis to stay at IU. It’s a litmus test game for both teams mostly because Indiana isn’t great at shooting threes – the Hoosiers were dreadful from deep last year and have still been mediocre this year against teams like Northern Illinois and UL Lafayette. Meanwhile, SU gave up a veritable three-point air raid to Colgate. Mark this one on your calendars. It’s a fascinating matchup and should tell us quite a bit about both squads.

Past IU, the Orange travel down to Florida State on December 4th. The Orange and ‘Noles actually never played last season – they would’ve in January if not for COVID issues. Now, FSU marks the first conference matchup for SU this year. The Seminoles lost some key contributors in the offseason – namely senior guard M.J. Walker to the G League – but keep your eyes on how SU’s supposedly explosive offense deals with what is currently the 47th best scoring defense in college basketball.

Rounding out the last two games on this stretch are Villanova on December 7th and Georgetown on December 11th. There’s not much more to be said that can hype up games between a couple old Big East rivals. ‘Cuse forward Cole Swider gets to face off against his old Wildcat mates while Georgetown is always an intense game – just ask former SU forward Marek Dolezaj how intense last year’s edition was.

These four games against good non-con teams and a conference foe who made it to the Sweet Sixteen last year will tell us a lot about this year’s SU squad. It won’t be panic time if Syracuse doesn’t play these teams well, but it may be time for concern if they can’t win at least two of them. After the Colgate stunner, this team can’t take any opponent for granted.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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