As of the morning of June 8, SU has released five games on its non-conference schedule. A few weeks ago Team Fizz argued for a tough as well as an easy slate of games before ACC play. Right now it seems like Jim Boeheim and company are taking the latter route. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect in these five games.
The Orange and Mountain Hawks were scheduled to meet on December 18 last year. The game was called off due to COVID concerns. It would have been the first showdown between the two since November 2015, a game SU won by 10. Last season’s Lehigh team went 13-19. Brett Reed’s group has registered three consecutive losing seasons after finishing above .500 10 times in an 11-year span. This *should* be a relatively comfortable home victory on November 7.
When an SU fan thinks of Colgate, the connotations are extremely negative. The Orange may hold a 127-46 edge over its most frequent opponent, but last year’s trainwreck of a loss to the Raiders isn’t exactly water under the bridge. Colgate’s momentum didn’t stop there. The Raiders made their third consecutive NCAA Tournament and gave 3rd-seeded Wisconsin all it could handle before falling 67-60. It’ll be hard to rekindle that magic though. Colgate’s top-3 scorers are all gone. Add in that as well as the revenge factor, there’s no possible way Syracuse loses to them again at home on November 15, right? Right?
The Bulldogs nearly pulled off a humungous upset in the season opener in 2020. Alas, SU won the first-ever meeting between the foes. Last season was a very successful one for Bryant. The Smithfield, RI-based school made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament behind the nation’s leading scorer in Peter Kiss. However, the Bulldogs fell to Wright St. 93-82 in the First Four. Kiss is leaving the Ocean State, but March Madness fan-favorite Doug Edert is on the way in. The former Saint Peter’s Peacock will certainly draw a crowd but probably won’t bring a ton of victories, including on November 26 at the Dome.
The opponent isn’t exactly marquee, but the story is. Now that Coach K has retired, this game will see the two longest-tenured coaches in men’s college basketball square off in Boeheim and Greg Kampe. Kampe has led the Golden Grizzlies since 1984 and has registered 23 winning seasons, including 12 since moving to Division I in 1997. Oakland has made the NCAA Tournament three times since then. But the Golden Grizzlies haven’t exactly been great recently, with three consecutive losing seasons. Syracuse has welcomed Oakland to the Dome four times previously. The Orange won all four, and shouldn’t have a problem making it 5-for-5 on December 6.
Out of these five, this is without question the game fans have circled on their calendars. The Hoyas are the only former Big East foe that the Orange schedule regularly. Similar to Colgate, last year’s game has left a bitter taste in the mouths of the SU faithful. Syracuse choked a 10-point halftime lead en route to an embarrassing 79-75 loss. To make matters worse, Georgetown won a grand total of one game the rest of the way against Howard. 21 straight losses to end the regular season. This is a team SU should’ve decimated. The Hoyas have the 50th best recruiting class according to 24/7 Sports, good for 4th in the Big East. Improvement is a reasonable expectation, but Georgetown has no business beating Syracuse at home on December 10… at least it shouldn’t.
Not exactly a difficult quintet of games. SU has yet to announce its ACC-B1G challenge opponent or its first matchup in the Empire Classic Thanksgiving week. It’s also reasonable to expect Cornell given that the Orange and Big Red have renewed acquaintances every year since 2013 except for 2020 (Ivy League schools did not play that year). It remains to be seen what SU has in store for its non-conference games yet to be announced, but one thing is certain. If the Orange don’t go 5-0 in these games, it’s going to be another long season.