Orange Watch: No harping, please, about Syracuse’s basketball schedule

Carrier Dome - basketball

It’s no more than a misperception anymore.

After years in which national college basketball media types would continuously lambaste Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse program for either never venturing out of the Dome or New York State prior to the beginning of conference play, the staff has scheduling down to a science. It all makes sense with an 18 game league portion already laid out.

SU has another solid schedule this year

Rotate among the early-season exempt tournaments (this year it’s the Gotham Classic) which either guarantees three extra home (revenue) games and an appearance at Madison Square Garden/metro NYC area (alumni), or a high-profile event with an exotic locale (Maui) that also adds three extra games to the schedule.

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Throw in seven Nov.-Dec. home games (revenue) against the likes of smaller, generally eastern-based schools, mix in with one true road test against a major non-conference foe (this year it’s Arkansas as part of the “Big East/SEC Challenge”), and once in a while take part in the new college hoops boom of playing games either on aircraft carriers (November’s Battle on the Midway versus San Diego State) or on another continent with major expenses paid for by corporate sponsors, and there you have it.

It makes for the perfect blend for the first 13 games of the season, and the course isn’t likely to change much with the move to the ACC and eventually Mike Hopkins running the ship.

When it comes to the league portion of this year’s final season of play in the Big East, the conference and its TV partners missed a big opportunity with the ‘Cuse-Hoyas final-ever regular season game.

Number one, the game should be played in the Dome on March 9 at 4:00 ET on CBS (final Saturday of the season), not the scheduled Notre Dame at Louisville meeting. It’s the league’s ALL-TIME rivalry coming to an end, regardless if they were to meet in New York the following week. Secondly, it would be a no-brainer spectacle for CBS with a good shot to break the Dome attendance mark of 34,616.

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And, logistically, it could have been done, especially with the NHL in limbo. The teams could have played in D.C. on Feb. 23 instead of the Dome on one of the ESPN channels, with an early tipoff to accommodate the Wizards who play that night at 7:00.

That’s the exact same scenario for Syracuse’s final ever Big East appearance in Philadelphia Jan. 26. SU and Villanova tip at 11:00 a.m. at the Wells Fargo Center because the 76ers and Knicks play there that night.

The Philly game against ‘Nova will also mark the end of an unusual distinction Syracuse basketball holds in its all-time Big East run.

SU is the only conference member never to have played the Wildcats on campus (the 6500 seat Pavilion) because Orange fans flock to road games and create demand. By doing so Villanova would have simply left too much money on the table with the other site options and larger revenue opportunities (The Palestra, then Spectrum, now Wells Fargo Center) available.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth 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.