It seems like every year in recent memory, nobody has known quite how to make Syracuse basketball predictions. However, none of that uncertainty compares to endless possibilities of this season for the Orange. The possibilities range from an upper seed in the NCAA Tournament to missing even the NIT. Let’s take a look at SU’s ceiling and floor in the first year of the Coach Autry era.
Ceiling: Top-3 in ACC, Top-5 Seed in NCAA Tournament
Syracuse has so much young talent, it’s hard to rule out a breakout season like this. SU’s starting backcourt features Judah Mintz and JJ Starling, both ACC All-Freshman Team members last year. There’s plenty of other players that could flourish in a new spot, like ex-Florida State center Naheem McLeod and Auburn product Chance Westry. If all of these players click, and if returners like Benny Williams and Chris Bell continue to step up, then the team could really pick up some momentum. The final piece is new head coach Adrian Autry, who is supposedly changing things up a lot already.
One outlet, Fansided’s Busting Brackets, seems to think this is the most likely path forward. They put Syracuse as the third best team in ACC headed into the season. Based on last year’s NCAA Tournament rankings, that would make SU a five seed in March Madness. This is the most optimistic prediction for the Orange that anyone has doled out this offseason, and is probably about the ceiling for this team.
Floor: Basement of the ACC, Miss the NCAA Tournament and NIT
With so many roster and coaching changes, it’s absolutely possible that the season goes very poorly for Syracuse. SU lost two of its top-three scorers in the transfer portal: Joe Girard and Jesse Edwards.
There’s no guarantee that McLeod, who played under 15 minutes per game at FSU, becomes a legitimate starting center. It’s realistic to think that Westry struggled in a crowded backcourt. And wasn’t it just months ago that Orange fans were complaining that Benny Williams and Chris Bell weren’t consistent? Plus, Coach Autry isn’t guaranteed to be an improvement over Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim. Switching the defensive scheme and using a different philosophy was a needed change for SU, but sometimes things get worse before they get better.
If Syracuse faces growing pains, then the season could look really ugly record-wise. 247 Sports ranks the Orange as a tier-three team in the ACC. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi doesn’t even have SU as a part of his “Next Four Out,” which is the edge of the NCAA Tournament bubble. There’s plenty of outlets that don’t think Syracuse is a top-75 team in the country, so that’s a possibility that Orange fans need to come to terms with.
Realistic Expectation: Somewhere In Between
These Syracuse basketball predictions might not be right. SU probably won’t be the third-best team in the ACC. The Orange probably also won’t be a basement dweller in the conference. Like most teams, Syracuse might not live up to its potential, but that doesn’t mean the worst-case scenario will happen either.