Well, you’re probably thinking “no duh” after reading the title. Obviously, Syracuse’s six games before the New Year will play a big role in determining how far this team goes. But we’re going past the end of the season with this. If the Orange do not win out the remainder of their schedule in 2022, recruiting is going to get a lot more difficult than it already is.
So why is this the case? Let’s lay out who SU has on the docket before the ball drops. You’ve got Oakland, Georgetown, Monmouth, Cornell, Pittsburgh, and Boston College. Those have to scream college basketball powerhouses given that only one of those teams is in KenPom’s top 100. Additionally, all six of these games are inside the JMA Wireless Dome. Syracuse has already lost to TWO mid-majors at home this season, but dropping one of these games might just be another level of embarrassment.
Additionally, whether he wants to admit it or not, the end is near for Jim Boeheim. He just doesn’t appear to have the same passion or love he had for coaching a few seasons ago, especially with both of his sons out the door. The uncertainty surrounding that may (let’s be real, it probably does) have something to do with SU’s current lack of commits in the Class of 2023. Rumors have been flying around that one of the assistants may take over once Boeheim finally calls it a career. If (and this is a big if) those rumors prove to be true, going on a run to end the year has to instill some confidence in the current assistant coaches, even if they aren’t taking on the brunt of the responsibilities.
Finally, let’s think about SU’s competition for these big-time recruits. The elites of the ACC will go into the new year well over .500. How do you expect to even be remotely competitive with Virginia or Duke if they go into the New Year with at most two losses if Syracuse enters 2023 with six? You’re already at a disadvantage because both the Cavaliers and the Blue Devils have been far more relevant and successful in recent years than the Orange. You can’t stumble through the last four weeks of 2022 and expect to be even remotely competitive with top-tier teams in the recruiting race.
A strong end to the calendar year ought to give recruits a better feeling about this program. It will show that Syracuse can consistently win over a long stretch, renew faith in the coaching staff, and get the program closer (though still separated from) to the best in the sport. A bad ending to 2022 might just make mediocrity the expectation in Central New York.