Orange Watch: Breaking down the 2019-2020 Syracuse basketball schedule

Syracuse assistant coach Gerry McNamara
Syracuse assistant coach Gerry McNamara speaks with former SU star Eric Devendorf. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: The ACC turned its annual release of the men’s conference basketball schedule, previously announced the last week of August or first week of September, into a prime time special program airing exclusively on the fledgling ACC Network. The show which ran on Sept. 12 was about 25 minutes late due to the women’s soccer match preceding it going to overtime. That slightly delayed the revealing of a new dynamic when it comes to a 20 game ACC schedule and the programming needs of the new TV network – a tough early season slate for the Orange.

We have known for months that Syracuse and Virginia would meet in a heavily-weighted season opening game at the Dome, beginning league play with only exhibition games against Daemen College (Amherst, N.Y.-based) and Canadian college power Carlton under Syracuse’s belt.

The league-created exclusive ACC Network broadcast of the SU-UVA game is a built-in inducement to any remaining distributor (we’re looking at you Comcast/Xfinity) to carry the new sports programming, and attract more TV households in the conference footprint for more ad/sponsor revenue.

It’s the other ‘Cuse ACC game at Georgia Tech shoe-horned in (December 8) just before fall semester final exams and the holiday break that now makes the 13 games between Nov. 6 (UVA) and Dec. 28 (Niagara) its own mini season of tough challenges home and away.

» Related: For Syracuse basketball, 2-point shooting will make the season

Here are some items that stand out to us about the entire 31 game regular season schedule and postseason NCAA sites:

  • The aforementioned Virginia opener is the toughest on paper since Charlotte upset SU in the Dome to begin the 2003-04 season, just over seven months after winning the ’03 national title.
  • In six of its first ten games, SU faces Virginia, Oklahoma State, either Mississippi or Penn State, Iowa, Georgia Tech, and Georgetown. This team will certainly be tested before the rest of the 18 ACC games begin with the Jan. 4 date at home versus Notre Dame.
  • The ‘Cuse does not play on a (Big) Monday night. That’s a slap in the face for a program that as recently as last season won at Duke on a Monday night. SU also does not play on a Thursday, but does have at least one game on every other day of the week.
  • With the Dome closing on March 1, 2020 for the new roof installation (and needing to be open for the Colgate football game on Sept. 19, 2020 – 203 days), we figured the ACC would give the Orange a home game on leap day, Sat. Feb. 29, 2020, and guessed Duke. But Duke is at Virginia that day so North Carolina is in the Dome instead, not too bad an alternative before the building shuts down and SU has to finish with road games at Boston College and Miami before the ACC Tournament in Greensboro (also an NCAA first/second round site).
  • Syracuse has a chance to shoot for a “New York State of Mind” when it comes to its NCAA Tournament bracket. Albany’s Times-Union Center is one of the eight first/second round sites; bringing back fond memories of the 2003 stop there on route to winning it all in New Orleans. Madison Square Garden is the East Regional venue, creating an opportunity for SU to not have to leave the state. The final Four is in Atlanta, site of Syracuse’s 2013 national semifinal appearance.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth 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.