Up until last March, when Syracuse grounded the Dayton Flyers while at the same time Middle Tennessee State did the Orange a solid by bouncing the 2-seed Michigan State Magic Johnsons, the Orange’s basketball season was fairly underwhelming. A curious statement considering the team earned a spot in the Final Four.
Remember, Jim Boeheim and Co. entered the tournament with a very Un-Syracuse-like 19-13 record. The Orange dropped four straight to open league play and closed the regular season losing four out of five before getting bounced from the ACC Tournament by Pitt.
The offseason did bring some good news. Tyler Lydon returns for his sophomore year. Talented freshman Taurean Thompson ended a long recruiting battle by committing to the Orange. And grad transfer John Gillon arrives from Colorado State to bolster the backcourt.
The team’s non-conference slate is set and home and away opponents for ACC play have been announced. There are a few familiar foes on this year’s schedule outside of the usual league rivals that should have one thought running through the heads of Orange fans.
To borrow a quote from Doc Holliday, it’s not revenge Syracuse is after. It’s the reckoning.
A return visit to the Badgers –last year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge opponent – is first on the docket. The Cheeseheads beat SU in the Dome last year, 66-58, in overtime. Madison is one of the most difficult venues in the country so the Orange will have its work cut out for it.
Long-time nemesis Georgetown pays a visit to the Dome on Saturday, December 17. This result will be much different than the 79-72 loss Syracuse suffered at the Verizon Center last year. HEY GEORGETOWN, CAN YOU HEAR THE ORANGE NOW?!?!?!
Another road game against a former Big East foe that went off the rails last year as the Johnnies took out SU, 84-72, at MSG. This one will have NCAA Tourney implications because as noted Syracuse expert, Doug Gottlieb, stated last March, a team that can’t beat St. John’s shouldn’t earn a tournament bid. *Eye roll*
The Panthers beat Syracuse three times last season so you’d think that would be the driving force behind some payback. Not quite. Boeheim’s Army was just bounced from The Basketball Tournament by a squad of mostly former Pitt players after which Levance Fields was quoted as saying “we own Syracuse.” The purse for TBT was $2 million. Ouch. Syracuse plays Pitt home and away this year.
The Cardinals are another squad that Syracuse plays twice this upcoming season. Last year’s lone meeting was a 72-58 road loss.
Miami won at South Beach last year, 64-51, in the only meeting between the two schools. When the Hurricanes visit upstate New York this year, they should be prepared for the Orange to unleash thunder and lightning of its own.
The Tigers handed the Orange a 74-73 OT home loss in the third game of the ACC portion of the schedule. So not only will Syracuse be playing for pride when it visits Kilmpsun (What? That’s how they pronounce it?!) but it will probably be playing to avenge the hurtin’ put on the SU football team too. Clemson is a total wagon on the gridiron this year. But I digress.
Outside of exacting revenge on the Hoyas, the Tar Heels present the biggest licking of the chops. Syracuse dropped all three games against the Heels last year including the Final Four matchup. The two squads meet only once in the regular season and it’s in Chapel Hill.
Though the Orange lost at Virginia last year, I decided against adding the Cavaliers to the list for the sole reason that they are probably still choking on blowing a 16-point second half lead to Syracuse in the Elite 8 last year. Good!
Is it October yet?