Way too early 2019-20 Syracuse basketball team predictions

Hughes_Georgetown2
Dec 8, 2018; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse forward Elijah Hughes (33) shoots over Jessie Govan (15) during the second half of the Orange's 72-71 win over Georgetown at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

It’s only been a week since Syracuse’s 2018-19 season ended. But the next season is only six months away, and with that in mind, here are our way too early predictions for the upcoming year:

JIM STECHSCHULTE (2018-19 Season Record: 4-1): Only Oshae Brissett and Elijah Hughes will return to a Syracuse team with an established level of play as starters. The backcourt is riddled with questions and the simplest way to reduce them is shifting Hughes to shooting guard to open a forward spot for Marek Dolezaj.

Should Hughes make that move, SU will still have very inexperienced players filling roles at point guard and center. Dolezaj cannot start in the pivot, as next year’s 20-game ACC schedule will simply grind him down before the midpoint of the campaign.

With the Orange getting Virginia and Virginia Tech twice as part of the conference rotation, plus an appearance in the NIT Season Tip-Off and an ACC-Big Ten Challenge game, next season’s mostly inexperienced crew will have a long, cold winter. Put me down for 16-15 overall and 8-12 in ACC play with an NIT bid.

BRAD BIERMAN (2018-19 Season Record: 3-3): There is so much unknown about the 2019-20 Syracuse basketball team. There’s four talented, yet collegiately unproven, freshman coming aboard, three key contributors and a reserve returning for only their second year playing in the program, two others coming back from various medical conditions, along with “veterans” Oshae Brissett and Marek Dolezaj.

Then there’s the schedule. Not only are there now 20 ACC games, but for the first time since the 2004 opening game loss at home to Charlotte, this upcoming season opener looms larger than usual – Virginia in the Dome November 6 (and if you’re still connected your provider better have the new linear ACC Network debuting in August, or you’ll be streaming that game).

We’ll go out on a limb here, and why not? It’s just over seven months until the season gets underway, there’s many developments that are going to occur (incoming freshmen sharp shooter Joe Girard and combo guard Brycen Goodine, for example, are going to flaunt their skills at the upcoming Final Four at Minneapolis in various skills competitions) to offer Orange Nation encouragement.

» Related: Syracuse basketball 2018-2019: A statistical retrospective

Jim Boeheim is still going to be teaching and coaching at full force until he retires and as next season progresses we see the ‘Cuse peaking come March and finishing with an unexpected regular season of 20-11 and final ACC mark of 12-8 to gain a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

WES CHENG (2018-19 Season Record: 11-7): In the 2019-20 season, the ACC will be moving to a new 20-game in conference schedule, which takes away two extra games Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim could’ve used for a warm-up non-conference foe.

The home and home teams include Boston College, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Then Syracuse will have a single game against Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, and Wake Forest.

The though draws will be the two games Syracuse will play against Virginia and Virginia Tech, though the Hokies may not be the same team if Buzz Williams decides to bolt for Texas A&M.

Breaking down each team by tier:

Tier 1 (7 games): Duke, Virginia (x2), North Carolina, Florida State, Virginia Tech (x2)

Tier 2 (4 games): Louisville, NC State, Clemson, Miami, Syracuse

Tier 3 (9 games): Boston College (x2), Pittsburgh (x2), Georgia Tech (x2), Notre Dame (x2), Wake Forest

You can argue that there should be some movement in these tiers. For instance, you may not consider Miami a Tier 2 team, and maybe Notre Dame recovers its footing and moves back into Tier 2.

I also consider Syracuse in the second tier because, while they lose their starting backcourt, Elijah Hughes should end up shifting to guard and either Quincy Guerrier or Marek Dolezaj will fill in the other wing spot. There should be enough experience among this group to be considered in that second tier.

Based on recent history, you can expect a 1-6 record from tier 1, a 2-2 record against Tier 2 and then a 7-2 record against Tier 3. That’s a 10-10 ACC record. Factor in the Preseason NIT Tipoff, the Big 10/ACC Challenge and a game against Buffalo (though Nate Oats departure complicates things), and you’d expect another two losses in non-conference play.

That makes it a 19-12 overall record with a 10-10 ACC record for a 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament and what I believe will end in a round of 32 loss.

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