Like it or not, it looks like Syracuse is going to head into the 2011-2012 basketball season with ridiculously-high expectations.
The Orange had the luxury of flying under the radar two years ago and having medium-rare expectations this past season. Not so much next year, it seems, if the way-too-early ranking predictions are any indicator. Thanks to minimal losses and a great incoming class, Syracuse is officially a "favorite."
Mike Miller at NBC Sports' Beyond The Arc slots the Orange in at No. 4 in his Way Too Early Preseason Top 25.
Jim Boeheim loses just one starter (Jackson) from a 27-win team that adds two impact recruits in Christmas and Carter-Williams, and another who can provide offense off the bench. The Orange will miss Jackson’s reliable rebounding and post defense, but he’s hardly irreplaceable. They’ll need Jardine to be more consistent and for Joseph and Melo to finally deliver on their tantalizing skills, but all the pieces are there for Syracuse to post yet another outstanding season. Maybe this is too high, but so be it. Given the other uncertainties surrounding other teams, ‘Cuse gets a bump for its known qualities.
The Sports Bank does one better and ranks SU at No. 3:
Kris Joseph is most likely returning meaning the Orange brings back everyone from last season except for Rick Jackson. They will exceptionally talented at guard with Brandon Triche, Scoop Jardine, and Dion Waiters returning and talented freshmen Michael Carter-Williams and Trevor Cooney joining the fray. Jim Boeheim’s frontcourt will be versatile and long as it usually is with Joseph, emerging sophomores Fab Melo, Baye Moussa-Keita, and C.J. Fair along with McDonald’s All-American power forward, Rakeem Christmas.
Expect to see more of these roll in as the week goes on.
Of course, Dick Vitale isn't a believer. He doesn't include SU in his Top Six, though he does put North Carolina at No. 1. Of course he does.