Orange Watch: 2019-20 Syracuse basketball blends in early challenges

Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim
Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim watches game action with father Jim Boeheim looking on from the sidelines. Mandatory Photo Credit: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online.

Item: Actually, the 2019-20 Syracuse basketball season gets underway on August 12 when the Orange meet Italian Select Team All-Stars Varese in the first of four exhibition games during a 10 day trip to Italy, a bonus period of experimentation and evaluation for Jim Boeheim and his staff. Following the international trip programs can make once every four years, there are a couple of weeks of workouts before the “official” start of preseason practice and a 12 game pre 2020 schedule that is highlighted by an ACC game against defending champion Virginia, a trip to Brooklyn for two games against Power 5 teams, hosting Iowa, and reigniting the Georgetown rivalry again this time in D.C.

Upon taking a closer look at the games that will help mold Boeheim’s 44th Orange squad, the Virginia opener (Nov. 6) is the toughest out-of-the-gate challenge for an SU squad since the 2003-04 team, as defending national champions and preseason ranked No. 7, fell to Charlotte 96-92 in the Dome.

Following UVA, there’s a convenient one week break for some teaching time before the Colgate game (Nov. 13), then three days later the NIT season Tipoff event gets underway with SU hosting Seattle University (Nov. 16).

» Related: Plenty for everyone to learn about Syracuse basketball on its Italy trip

The following week Cornell (Nov. 20) and Bucknell in another exempt NIT game (Nov. 23) complete five home games over 17 days before the ‘Cuse hits the road for the first time.

Two games in Brooklyn sandwiching Thanksgiving against Oklahoma State (Nov. 27) and either Ole Miss or Penn State (Nov. 29) will be nice tune-ups before hosting Iowa (Dec. 3) in the annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge game.

An 11 day break for fall semester exams ends with the game against Georgetown (Dec. 14) at usually raucous Capital One Arena, and strategically scheduled games against Oakland (Dec. 18), North Florida (Dec. 21) and Niagara (Dec. 28) close out the schedule prior to the balance of the remaining 19 conference games that will get underway the week of Dec. 30.

Those ACC games will also include home matchups with Duke and North Carolina, meaning three of the last four national champions will play in the Dome’s 40th and final air-supported year of operation.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 596 Articles
Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.