Syracuse’s 2016-17 basketball schedule is out, and I’m making a prediction for every single game this season. Today’s predictions will cover SU’s ACC schedule. Part I, which ran yesterday, makes predictions on all non-conference games.
W – at Boston College – About the only thing that the Eagles have had to brag about the last few seasons is ending Syracuse’s undefeated run in 2014. Don’t count on it happening again. Having lost their best player, Olivier Hanlan, to the Canadian pro league, the Eagles will not improve on last season’s 8-24 effort.
W – vs. Miami – The U loses three of its top players from a top-15 team last season, but it will use a top-15 recruiting class to reload. The Hurricanes should be a borderline top-25 team throughout the season. Miami was also a potential landing spot for Andrew White III. Perhaps that will be extra motivation for the newest member of the Orange? In any case, the undefeated season doesn’t end here.
L – vs. Pittsburgh – Why is this a loss? Because Pittsburgh. As former Panther Levance Fields said following his alumni ousting Boeheim’s Army from TBT this summer, “We own Syracuse.”
W – at Virginia Tech – Conference games on the road are always tough. This will be Buzz Williams’ third year with the Hokies, and he is starting to fill the team with his players. Nonetheless, Syracuse pulls this one out in a nail-biter.
W – vs. Boston College – The Eagles will struggle to stay out of the ACC basement.
L – at North Carolina – UNC knocked Syracuse out in the Final Four last season. Although next year’s Tar Heels lose Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige, Roy Williams returns all his underclassmen. Carolina will again be a top-10 team throughout the season and content for the ACC crown. Syracuse will suffer its second loss of the year in the Dean Dome.
W – at Notre Dame – The Orange will get back on track against the Irish. As much as Boeheim has struggled against Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh (6-15), he has had Notre Dame’s Mike Brey’s number (16-5).
W – vs. Wake Forest – Although coach Danny Manning has not had much luck turning the Demon Deacons around record-wise yet, he has made Wake Forest a factor again on the recruiting trail. Four-star shooting guard recruit Brandon Randolph just named the Deacons among his top four schools along with Syracuse. Randolph will almost certainly have chosen a school by this game, and regardless of where he picks Syracuse will win this game.
W – vs. Florida State – The 2016-2017 Seminoles will likely be similar to last year’s version: very talented but frustratingly inconsistent. They will add 5-star freshman Jonathan Isaac to make up for the loss of Malik Beasley, and Dwayne Bacon will be one of the most dangerous guards in the ACC. While this team will spend more time inside the top-25 than outside, it should be no problem for Syracuse playing at home.
W – at N.C. State – The Wolfpack had a decent team last season but finished under .500 due to a difficult schedule. Michael Gbinije scored 34 points last season in a Syracuse victory. Expect White III to put up similar numbers in an important road win this season.
W – vs. Virginia – Tony Bennett’s squad will be looking for revenge after Syracuse sent them home in the Elite Eight. The Cavaliers will once again be a top-10 team challenging for the ACC crown. Syracuse has yet to beat Virginia during an ACC regular season matchup and is due. This will be Syracuse’s most significant win of the season to date.
L – at Clemson – Syracuse is only 1-4 against the Tigers all time. Clemson loses two seniors from last year’s team but will again be a tough middle-of-the-road ACC team. Syracuse suffers a let down coming off the big win over Virginia and suffers its third loss of the season.
W – at Pittsburgh – As mentioned above, Pitt has had Syracuse’s number. The Orange has only won twice at the Peterson Event Center during the Jamie Dixon era. But this year’s Syracuse team is going to be good, and it’s difficult to beat a good team twice in one year. The Orange pull this one out, perhaps on a Tyler Ennis-esque last-second shot.
W – vs. Louisville – Ever since Boeheim went on a tirade when a reporter questioned him about his (poor) record against Louisville coach Rick Pitino, he has actually won more games in the series than he’s lost (4-3). Louisville will not be as talented as last season having lost multiple seniors and Chinanu Onuaku to the NBA draft, but the Cardinals will remain a tough matchup and a top-25 team. Given the ongoing NCAA investigation into the program, it’s possible Louisville will be banned from the NCAA tournament by this point in the season. Regardless, the Orange win this one at home.
W – at Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets lose four seniors from last year’s team that lost to Syracuse. Despite playing on the road, Syracuse continues to roll.
L – vs. Duke – This will be one of the most anticipated matchups of the season. Duke is projected by many to be the No. 1 team in the country. Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, two of the top three freshmen in the country, will join third-team All-American Grayson Allen to lead the Blue Devils. Coming off a knee injury, Amile Jefferson wins the Trevor Cooney Award for player that other teams’ fans think has been on the team for about 10 years. Although Duke lacks a pure point guard, the Blue Devils will repay the Orange for beating them at home last season.
W – at Louisville – Syracuse hasn’t won at Louisville since Michael Carter-Williams led the Orange to an upset victory in 2013. This will be the first time SU beats the Cardinals twice in the same season since 2012.
W – vs. Georgia Tech – For the first time since joining the ACC, Syracuse will host Senior Night on the last game of the regular season. It will be an emotional event. Fans will say thank you and goodbye to Dajuan Coleman and Tyler Roberson after long careers in Orange. They will also say goodbye to White III and John GIllon (and perhaps a “We were just getting to know you!”). The graduate transfers will be the key to a successful Syracuse season. Syracuse head into the ACC tournament with a W.
Final regular season record: 27-4. ACC Record: 12-4 (Place: tied for 1st).
Be sure to check out Part I of Jeff Irvine’s game-by-game projections.