Most compelling ACC games on the 2022-23 Syracuse basketball schedule

Frank Howard Kihei Clark Syracuse Virginia
Mar 4, 2019; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Frank Howard is defended by Virginia Cavaliers guard Kihei Clark (0) during the Orange's 79-53 loss at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Photo Credit: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online.

Last week, the ACC came out with the 2022-23 regular season schedule along with the March dates for the 2023 ACC tournament in Greensboro, NC.

For Syracuse, it represents an opportunity to improve on its mediocre record since switching conferences.

Since entering the ACC in 2013 and going 14-4, Syracuse has since gone 74-72 in conference play, almost always finishing middle of the pack.

The incoming freshman class for Syracuse includes a consensus top 5 recruit in the ACC in Judah Mintz along with other intriguing talent. Here is a look ahead to what could be major games for an Orange team that is trying to change the narrative.

December 20th- vs. Pittsburgh

Since Jeff Capel left as an assistant at Duke to take over Pitt, he’s struggled to turn them around. In his four years at Pitt, the Panthers have never won more than six ACC games in a season.

Still, some off-season moves appear to have Pitt moving in the right direction. Some of these moves include names familiar to Syracuse basketball.

Transfer guard Nelly Cummings of Colgate spent three years facing the Orange, and is using his last year of eligibility to join the ACC and Pitt. Along with Cummings, five-star guard Dior Johnson is the most exciting freshman recruit Pitt has seen with Capel.

Johnson famously accepted an offer at Syracuse in his sophomore year of high school. Since then, Johnson has decommitted to the Orange and Oregon as well, making Pitt as his third school before he even stepped on campus.

Those subplots will make for a highly anticipated ACC opener in December for the Orange.

January 7th & 30th- Virginia, January 11th and 28th- Virginia Tech

The Orange will be getting acquainted with the state of Virginia in January. Twice in the same month, Syracuse faces both Virginia and Virginia Tech in back-to-back games. The Orange host the Cavaliers, then travel to Blacksburg to play the Hokies, and vice versa just two weeks later.

All of these games in the middle of conference play will be large tests for the Orange. Both Virginia and Va. Tech share similar lineup constructions, and depend largely on returning players.

» Related: Breaking down Syracuse basketball’s 2022-23 schedule

For Virginia, finishing 12-8 in conference play and sixth in the ACC last year was considered a down year for head coach Tony Bennett and his team. Over the past decade, Bennett has transformed Virginia into a powerhouse program with the backbone of strong team defense.

UVA returns all five starters from last year highlighted by the veteran backcourt of Kihei Clark and Reece Beekman. That should mean a season of slower tempo games and a staunch defense.

Similar to Virginia, the Hokies bank on experience as reigning ACC tournament champions. Key players such as Justyn Mutts, Hunter Catoor, and Sean Pedulla all return to the Hokies under head coach Mike Young.

While former Wofford players Keve Aluma and Storm Murphy have moved on from the Hokies, four-star combo guard Rodney Rice has the talent to make up for the losses.

Both of these teams should provide a barometer of where Syracuse stands at the midway point of the season.

January 14th- vs. Notre Dame

Notre Dame had struggled to keep up with basketball powerhouses of the ACC since joining the conference in 2013 with Syracuse. That is, until last season, when they had their best conference finish at 15-5 to finish second behind Duke.

This season, the Irish look to build upon this finish with a strong recruiting class, highlighted by a name familiar to Syracuse fans.

JJ Starling, of Baldwinsville, NY, had been high on recruiting boards for Syracuse and Jim Boeheim since his freshman year of high school. But Starling spurned his hometown, ultimately choosing Notre Dame.

This game in the Dome during the middle of conference play will be a homecoming for Starling. Add this to the fact Notre Dame has a solid team with returners Cormac Ryan and Dane Goodwin, and this matchup becomes one to key in on.

February 18th- vs. Duke

As if Duke is not always a mark your calendar team, this year holds special implications. For the first time in over fourty years, the Blue Devils enter the Dome without head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Former player and assistant coach Jon Scheyer takes the rain of head coach with an elite recruiting class passed to him in his first year. In the ESPN Top 100 recruiting rankings, the top 2 recruits of the 2022 class, Dereck Lively and Dariq Whitehead, both are headed to the Blue Devils.

Another addition to a stacked class coming in is the No. 7 recruit in the country, Kyle Filipowski. The 6-10 center was targeted by Syracuse and had the Orange on his list before choosing Duke.

All these factors influence what is already high anticipation for Duke in the Dome. Towards the end of conference play, this game could have huge implications for Syracuse’s postseason chances.

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About Brett Gustin 71 Articles
Brett is from Canastota, NY, and is currently attending Falk college at Syracuse University studying Sports Analytics. Being a Central New York native, Brett has been passionate about Syracuse sports for his whole life. He covers all Syracuse athletics.