Orange Watch: 2021-22 Syracuse basketball schedule as challenging as ever

Jan 9, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Marek Dolezaj (21) dribbles the ball with Georgetown Hoyas forward Collin Holloway (23) defending during the first half at Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Item: The ACC released its composite men’s basketball schedule last week, in what is now a made-for-TV event on the ACC network.  With the addition of a conference game on December 4 at Florida State, the eighth game of the season, the other non-league matchups over the first seven weeks will certainly have Syracuse ready for the full portion of ACC play.  

As we wrote in late June, with the bracket that’s subsequently been announced and the eventual game results in November’s Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas, Syracuse could end up facing seven of the last eight programs to win the national championship among the 31 games of the upcoming season’s schedule.

The Orange meet Virginia Commonwealth in the first game at the Atlantis resort, and face either Baylor or Arizona State in game two contingent if they win or lose vs. VCU.  Depending on the game two result, SU could potentially dual Connecticut in its third and final game.

If Syracuse does end up meeting Baylor (good shot) and Connecticut (longer shot), they would indeed meet seven of the last eight national champion schools with Virginia, Villanova, North Carolina, Duke, and Louisville already on the schedule.

Hypothetically, SU could have a six-game stretch in November-early December of playing Baylor, Michigan State (or Connecticut/Auburn/Loyola-Chicago), Indiana, Florida State, Villanova, and Georgetown in consecutive games.  That has to be the toughest early-season stretch since the last time the ‘Cuse played at the Atlantis early in the 2015-16 season when it met Connecticut, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, and Georgetown in four straight games.

All but one ACC team, Duke, plays its first league game over the weekend of December 3-5, when the Orange travel to Florida State, providing plenty of fodder for conspiracy theorists.

We, or course, didn’t know it that the time, but Roy Williams ended up making his final Dome appearance as North Carolina coach last March 1 when Syracuse held on for a 72-70 win, before he announced his retirement exactly one month later.

We do know that Mike Krzyzewski will bid the building farewell on (Saturday) February 26 in what will hopefully be a prime-time affair.  Two days later, Syracuse travels to North Carolina for its only Big Monday appearance of the season, trying to win for the first time ever against the Tar Heels at the Smith Center (0-5), where the Orange are 1-6 all-time (North Carolina A&T 1988 NCAA Tournament) in the building.

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That consecutive game sequence against Tobacco Road legacy programs is the only Saturday-to-Monday turnaround in what’s an otherwise pretty unremarkable ACC schedule.  SU does get three consecutive home games in mid-January, balanced by playing four of its final seven regular season games on the road.

For the post-season, Syracuse doesn’t have to leave the Empire State for the ACC Tournament, with the event returning to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for a third time.  If the Orange has the kind of season expected qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, a top eight seed might make for an easy trip down the Thruway to Buffalo, one of two first/second round East sites (Pittsburgh), with the East Regional in Philadelphia.

The Final Four returns to every Syracuse fan’s favorite national championship destination – New Orleans, and the recently re-named Caesars Superdome. While acknowledging sports betting’s meteoric rise and recent legalization in La., we’ll still call it the Louisiana Superdome, thank you.

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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.