The 2016-2017 Syracuse Orange basketball team comes into the college basketball season ranked at the No. 19 spot. Many Syracuse fans think the Orange are vastly underrated, deserving of a top ten ranking with the belief that Jim Boeheim’s club could return to the Final Four.
With that in mind, the TNIAAM staffers got together to give its predictions on the upcoming season that officially tips off on Friday. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
23-8 regular season: Final Four
Here’s my hope for the 2016-2017 Syracuse basketball team. They’re really good but slightly disappointing in the regular season. Maybe it’s a Too Many Cooks situation and they need some time to gel as a unit. An eight-loss regular season is nothing to sneeze at but it’s not elite. And that’s okay, it takes the pressure off and let’s the Orange improve as the year goes on, peaking at the right time. As a four-seed in the NCAA Tournament, they kick it into high gear at the right time, clamp down on defense and make a second consecutive Final Four appearance. I don’t have the huevos to say what happens after that, but I’m happy setting the bar high. Blame Boeheim for being so positive (for him, at least).
24-7 regular season: Elite Eight
I know, #disloyal and all that, but as we all know, the NCAA Tournament is a crapshoot based entirely on matchups versus the actual “best team.” Syracuse has tourney experience and may be among the better teams entering the postseason. I just have some pause around the defense. Long SU’s calling card for tournament success, defense may not be as strong for the Orange as it has been in year’s past. They get derailed before the Final Four, but this year’s far from a failure.
25-6 regular season: Final Four
Open your eyes, America, and look at this Syracuse team. Look at their roster. Look at their depth. Look at their youth. Look at their experience. This year’s Orange team has it all, and if everything comes together at the right time, they could repeat last year’s performance.
24-7 regular season: Elite Eight
First things first. I am absolutely, whole-heartedly and undeniably clairvoyant. Last season I predicted Syracuse’s regular season and ACC record, as well as its NCAA Tournament seed and would have been right about its tournament result if it weren’t for Michigan State totally blowing it. But seriously, thank you Michigan State.
Anyway, getting the self-pat on the back out of the way, here’s my rationale: I think Syracuse drops its non-conference games against Wisconsin (road game) and UConn (only one day to prep) while losing five ACC games. The ACC is unequivocally the best conference and losing only five games is a huge success in my eyes. I think that ultimately earns Syracuse a three seed with a solid RPI, SOS and quality wins.
Syracuse gets rewarded by playing in the East Region with its first and second round games in Buffalo and its Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games at MSG. There’s only one problem — the best team in the country also gets rewarded with a No. 1 seed in the East region and Syracuse falls to Duke in the Elite Eight. I hope I’m wrong and Syracuse wins the whole thing, but an Elite Eight performance is stilly pretty damn good.
What about you? How do you see Syracuse finishing its 2016-17 basketball season?