Item: The ACC holds its 52nd annual “Basketball Operation,” aka Media Day, Wednesday in Charlotte, and the Orange should be highly thought of amidst the pre-season HOOPla.
Unlike its football counterparts who were deemed to finish second-to-last in the Atlantic Division, but who have already defeated a N.C. State team on the road that was picked to finish three slots higher (behind only Clemson and Florida State) than the ‘Cuse back in July, the SU basketball team is likely no worse than the third selection of 15 ACC teams by league media members when the predictions and all-conference teams are announced at the proceedings being held at The Ritz-Carlton in North Carolina’s Queen City.
Based on most national pre-season Top 25 predictions and conference previews, the Orange are right behind Duke, and either right in front of, or just behind, North Carolina atop the conference heap. Pretty heady company for the newcomers, but then again exactly what you’d expect the first year Syracuse joins two of its neighbors in the exclusive Top 5 all-time victories list in the same conference, the debut coinciding off the best back-to-back NCAA Tournament seasons in school history.
It’s also exactly what first got Orange Nation excited the day the conference move leaked in Sept. 2011, the initial reaction of Syracuse basketball being in the same league with Duke and North Carolina, a chance to crash the party with the opportunity on the court to make the ACC’s “Big Two” a “Big Three” was simply intoxicating.
Last March, after the Orange began their improbable (at the time) postseason run to the Final Four with a scrappy win over Seton Hall to begin play in the final Big East Tournament, Jim Boeheim, while reminiscing about leaving Madison Square Garden for Greensboro, was also providing an early preview of just how he was looking at the next challenge of his Hall of Fame career.
“Yeah, it’s (the ACC) a new chapter. This (the Big East) has been unbelievable, but next year will be tremendously challenging,” Boeheim said while simultaniously quashing numerous chatter of potential retirement.
“I think that (a new league) will be good for me because it’s such a tremendous challenge to change leagues and go down there (the ACC’s Carolina-based epicenter). It’s very difficult to do that. We know that.”
So it will be interesting to hear the SU coach’s reaction seven months later in Charlotte, when he actually sees the challenge presented by the league’s pre-season pecking order in black and white.