We've got a ways to go before we get to the Syracuse Orange basketball team's 2013-2014 season. We still need to figure out what C.J. Fair is gonna do, whether or not the returning players will improve and if the newbies will live up to the hype.
In the meantime, we can take a look at the schedule as it looks in order to get a rough idea of what's ahead. Let's dig in.
What We Know
Late/November/Early December: ACC/B1G Challenge
December 14: at St John's Red Storm (Well, at MSG, so...)
January - March: ACC Schedule
Now let's break it down...
Syracuse will play four games in the Maui Invitational. Unlike previous iterations, they now have each invited team play a "regional" game against a lesser opponent on their home court. Some schools who participated last year include Colgate, Coppin State, Elon and FAU. Regardless of the outcome, Syracuse will "advance" to Maui.
In Maui, they'll play a first-round game against another invited school. If they win, they move on to the semis. If they lose, they head to consolation bracket. Win the next game, move on. Lose the next game, go to a 3rd/7th place game. Win that final game and you're the Maui Invitational champ.
If the Maui folks are smart, they'll schedule Syracuse against Cal in the first-round game so that they might have a chance to finally get back in this. Assuming that the Orange keep on advancing, they might very well then see Baylor, Arkansas or Gonzaga, but we won't know for sure.
In the ACC/B1G Challenge, the most obvious thing to do is pit Syracuse against the Michigan Wolverines for a Final Four rematch. I would actually be shocked if this didn't happen. Of course, pitting Syracuse against Michigan State, Ohio State or Wisconsin would make for a prime-time showdown as well. Just assume we're going to play one of the top teams from the Big Ten.
The St. John's game just makes too much sense, though more so for the Madison Square Garden location than to keep the rivalry going. Not to speak for everyone but I don't know if I really think of St. John's as a real rival anymore.
The ACC schedule will be 18 games and Syracuse will play the Boston College Eagles and Pittsburgh Panthers twice. That leaves 10 teams to then play once and two other teams to play twice. As for who it'll be, no idea just yet. We do know that we'll play the assumed-to-be-good Duke Blue Devils, North Carolina Tar Heels, Virginia Cavaliers, Miami Hurricanes, Florida St. Seminoles and Notre Dame Fighting Irish at least once. (Good time to remind you that Louisville will not be in the ACC this season, they'll be in the AAC. Teeheehee.)
What We Don't Know
So that's 24 games. On average, Syracuse plays 30/31 regular season games. Let's assume it's 31. So we need eight more non-conference games to fill things in. Knowing how tough many of those aforementioned games are going to be, I'm beginning to think we're going to take a year off from scheduling too many Big East rivals like Georgetown and Villanova (though I could be wrong). Especially when you keep in mind that the Maui Invitational and the ACC/B1G Challenge are basically back-to-back and Boeheim might want to take it easy after that.
Here's what I do see as those eight games, give or take (all of which will be in the Carrier Dome, obviously)...
- Colgate Red Raiders
- Eastern Michigan Eagles
- Canisius Golden Griffins
- Albany, N.Y. Great Danes
- Cornell Big Red
- Fordham Rams
- Detroit Titans
- St. Bonaventure Bonnies
It's a rough guess and many of these teams are interchangeable with others. But given the teams we may play in Maui coupled with who we'll play in the ACC/B1G Challenge and the impending ACC schedule, I just don't know if the Orange have room to schedule many more tough non-conference games. As it is, this might end up being the toughest non-conference schedule we've had in a while (on paper).