Orange Watch: Syracuse basketball list of 2018-19 opponents down to one

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Marek Dolezaj looks to pass during Syracuse's game against Clemson. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: With only one date left to be filled (as of Aug. 6) to complete the 13 games making up the pre-ACC portion of the SU schedule, there is one certainty; the framework of the out-of-conference competition level combined with the 18 league game rotation previously announced, including Duke twice, will certainly have this seasoned team prepared to make another deep NCAA Tournament run.

All that’s left to announce are the specific dates of the ACC regular season games, and the naming of one more non-conference opponent and the 31 games making up the 2018-19 schedule will be complete, likely either just before or just after Labor Day.

The final non-ACC foe would complete the desired 10 home games to help derive the needed revenue from ticket sales in the large building, that overall has 21 basketball dates this season between October and March.

The non-conference schedule is currently highlighted by appearances from Georgetown (Dec. 8), a rematch from a year ago with St. Bonaventure (Dec.29), and a potential Boeheim (Jimmy) vs. Boeheim (Buddy) matchup (Dec. 1) with the almost annual visit of Cornell.

There’s presently an open date that could be filled on Sat., Nov. 24 when the football team is at Boston College, and only two games are now scheduled between Buffalo (Dec. 18) and the Bonnies rematch with the Holiday break sandwiched in the middle.

» Related: James Southerland: 2018-19 Syracuse basketball team is ‘loaded with talent’

The lone true road game is at Ohio State (Nov. 28) in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, with old foe Connecticut and new coach Dan Hurley (Nov. 15) then either Iowa or Oregon (Nov. 16) to wrap up the 2K Classic providing a likely challenging intersectional November test at Madison Square Garden to rock the NYC fan base.

The ACC has absolutely fallen in love with the Syracuse-Duke basketball rivalry, and why not? Of the seven conference games only two have not been close (plus a four point NCAA Sweet 16 game to boot), with plenty of drama in-between. 2019 will make it three out of six seasons (2014, 2015) in which the teams are meeting twice during the regular season.

Following a two year run in Brooklyn, the ACC Tournament (in which the Orange is 1-5 all-time in the conference’s most prestigious event) moves back to North Carolina for the next two years first to Charlotte’s downtown Spectrum Center in 2019, and then the Greensboro Coliseum in that city’s Coliseum Complex district in 2020.

Beyond that, the destination still remains the focal point of conversation among the league office, ADs and ESPN, with the new linear ACC Network set to debut in a year. The consensus is that a permanent rotation of Carolina, Washington, D.C. and New York City will be adapted in order to appease the traditional Tobacco Road interests with that of the 2000s expansion era, mostly northern, ex-Big East programs.

The easiest travel path for Syracuse in the 2019 NCAA Tournament (there will be no First Four appearance in Dayton this time around) would be the East Regional locations first at the XL Center in Hartford, then the regional in Washington, D.C. That locale, Capital One Arena (formally known as the Verizon Center), was the site of the second-to-last Syracuse regional victory on route to the Final Four in 2013.

This season’s Final Four is at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis where it can still be quite chilly come April 6-8.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 526 Articles
Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.