Requisite trigger warning: Way-too-early rankings, much like right-on-time rankings, mean absolutely nothing. Try your best to remember that.
Now that the 2014-2015 college basketball season is officially over and the Syracuse Orange are no longer bound by any kind of ban from playing the sport, it's officially time to look ahead at 2015-2016 and try to guess where SU might be slotting in the coming polls.
Just a couple months ago, the saving grace of this down year was that we knew next season was going to be a return to form for the Orange, led by Chris McCullough and a team chocked full of experience and athleticism. Now that McCullough's gone, that makes a lot of the questions about the club more pronounced. Will DaJuan Coleman be ready and/or in good condition? Can the freshmen make an impact? Will Trevor Cooney become more dependable? Can Michael Gbinije be a team leader? Will Tyler Roberson keep improving?
We've got a lot of time to try and figure all of that out. The good news is that we often make the mistake of basing next season's success on how players looked last season and, often times, that's folly. Just look at the way Rakeem Christmas evolved from his junior year to his senior year.
The national pundits don't seem to have the answers yet themselves and most are leaving the Orange out of their way-too-early polls. Still, there are a couple mentions...
The Orange lose Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough declared for the draft, but everyone else is back. Coach Jim Boeheim, who's announced he's retiring in three seasons, will be tasked with helping the program weather the storm in light of looming NCAA penalties. The Orange will be loaded in the backcourt with returnees Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinije and Kaleb Joseph. Joining them will be top-20 recruit Malachi Richardson, an explosive shooting guard.
He likes the athleticism of the incoming recruits and the leadership skills of Gbinije, though he's concerned about the fact that, even with Rak, we weren't a tourney team this season.
Otherwise, the Orange absent in Eamon Brennan's ESPN poll, the CBS Sports poll, Mike Rutherford's SB Nation poll and the rest. See any other polls that include the Orange? Leave a comment with the link. Otherwise, try not to worry about it.