Syracuse basketball has brutal stretch in ACC schedule

Syracuse hits the road to start ACC play with a trip Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. The Hokies are one of four teams the Orange plays home-and-homes with in league play. The others being Boston College, Duke, and Pittsburgh.

The Orange has a chance to get off to a hot start again in league play as its first seven games are against the aforementioned Hokies, at Georgia Tech, home against Florida State and Wake Forest and a trip to Clemson right before back-to-back home contests against BC and Miami. There’s a real shot here for Syracuse to run out to a 7-0 start while getting some of the younger, inexperienced players used to the rigors of ACC play. After that, the schedule gets interesting.

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Syracuse will play a home-and-home at Duke

A trip to the Dean Dome to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels awaits the Orange on January 26. These two teams played only once last season, a 57-45 Syracuse win in the Dome. The game wasn’t as close as the 12-point margin of victory suggests.

The last month of the season finds the Orange testing itself against the league heavies with a few landmines thrown in for good measure. On February 7, Syracuse travels to Pittsburgh. You might remember how last year’s game at the Steel City went. A 35-foot heave from Ennis at the buzzer sunk Pitt’s hope of upsetting the undefeated Orange. Winning at Pitt is never easy as the Panthers will surely be out for revenge.

» Related: Syracuse faces a tough non-conference schedule

Before Duke pays a visit to the Dome on February 14 (perhaps Otto and the Blue Devil mascot will exchange Valentines at center court before the tip?), Syracuse plays at BC. This one has “trap game” written all over it. It shouldn’t though given that BC led Syracuse by eight points in the second half last year at Boston and it was the first team to hang a number in the Orange’s loss column.

Right after the Blue Devils cruise in and out of upstate New York, Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals pay a visit in their inaugural ACC season. Games against Louisville are always entertaining and this one should be no different.

As if visits from Duke and Louisville in the span of four days isn’t daunting enough, Syracuse closes out a seven day home gauntlet run with a return game against Pittsburgh. Like he did with the buzzer beater on the road, Ennis also bailed out his team in last season’s Dome contest by putting the Orange ahead for good with less than two minutes remaining.

Mark your calendars and set your DVRs for Saturday, February 28. Syracuse returns to the scene of the crime in Durham, North Carolina for The Jim Boeheim Meltdown Invitational. If you don’t remember what happened in last year’s game (and really, how can you not?), well, that’s why YouTube exists. No word yet on whether former Orange C.J. Fair and former Dukie Rodney Hood will be on hand to provide a reenactment as part of the halftime show.

The ACC reigning regular season champion Virginia Cavaliers close out Syracuse’s home schedule on Monday, March 2 while the Orange journeys to the Research Triangle for the third time in six weeks to take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack to close out the regular season.

This season’s schedule has a little bit of everything; an early season tournament against quality competition, two true road games versus challenging out-of-conference opponents and a brutal last month of the regular season leading up to the ACC Tournament. Many of the young, inexperienced Syracuse players will be hardly that come the end of the season. Let the madness begin.

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About Steve Auger

Steve Auger is a freelance writer whose work has covered a variety of topics including sports, pets, parenting, healthy living, local government and human interest stories. His work has been published on Care.com, Tom’s of Maine, Purina’s Petcentric.com and the Westford Patch. Steve’s been a diehard Syracuse sports fan for over 25 years. To this day, the words “Smart takes the shot” still make him cringe. Follow him on Twitter @Corner_Cube.
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