Earlier this month, I got back from the Final Four thinking about Syracuse basketball. I worked the 2015 version and again worked this year’s. Naturally, I wasn’t at the year in between, 2016, when Syracuse made the Final Four.
Anyway, when I got back from the Final Four, I thought about how far Syracuse basketball fell from the national conversation this year in comparison to last year. That will happen when you go from making a Final Four to missing the NCAA tournament all together the next season.
But the great thing about college basketball is that if you’ve got a program that is consistently good like Syracuse, you have a fighter’s chance at the Final Four any year.
So with that, I say prepare for another season of SU basketball without worrying about a potential decline in SU’s state as a basketball superpower.
These are college kids. Anything can happen on the court.
Look at this year’s quartet: aside from UNC and Gonzaga, it featured Oregon and South Carolina. There is a high chance that none of those teams will be there next year. Instead, it’s likely four new teams will take their place on college basketball’s biggest stage.
Could one of those be Syracuse? Possibly. Cuse seems to make the Final Four when no one expects them too. And certainly, no one will be expecting that next season, especially with the loss of Tyler Lydon to the NBA.
But Tyus Battle and Taurean Thompson are returning, and they’re two freshmen who had promising first-year campaigns. Pascal Chukwu gets to play and develop another season. Sure, Mike Hopkins will be gone, but Jim Boeheim is still there. One flaw, however, will be the team’s lack of senior leadership.
And senior leadership is what I observed as the key to success in college basketball these past five or so years. So, maybe we’ll make the Final Four. Or maybe expectations should be tempered.
But if this past season was any indication of what next season could bring, then we really could see anyone in the Final Four come next April.
Or we could just see UNC again.