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Syracuse basketball aims for 14th straight season-opening win

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Actually thought this would be a longer streak...

Syracuse v Virginia Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

When the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team opens up the 2017-18 season tonight against the Cornell Big Red, they’ll be looking to extend a couple different streaks.

The one you’re probably aware of is the 37-game win streak over Cornell dating back to the 1960s. But the one you may not have known about is the current 13-game win streak in season-openers.

Since losing to the Charlotte 49ers 96-92 in the 2003-04 season-opener, Syracuse has won all 13 tip-off games and only one of them has been all that close. SU’s 97-89 win over the Siena Saints in 2007-08 was the lone single-digit victory. The largest was actually a 50-point triumph over Northern Colorado the following season.

SU’s opened with Cornell once before in this stretch: an 82-60 victory in 2013-14.

NCAA Basketball: Cornell at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

All-time, SU’s opened with Cornell eight times before this year, including 2013-14, 1992-93, 1991-92, 1984-85, 1979-80, 1977-78, 1968-69 and 1928-29. They’re 7-1 in those contests with the lone loss being the 1968 matchup (the last time Syracuse lost to the Big Red on the basketball court).

While I don’t have the time to look at how some other top programs have fared in opening games over the years, one would probably guess Syracuse looks pretty favorable there. We’ve typically started out by dragging a lesser Upstate New York program over the years, and many of our peers have participated in opening weekend tournament-type events that are far more likely to end in losses.

Also of note, however, is the fact that the last season-opening loss (the one to Charlotte) was actually the second straight defeat to start a year for Syracuse. They lost to Memphis by seven points to start 2002-03, and then won 11 straight after. In 2003-04, they sullied the program’s national title celebration, but then won 13 straight afterward. Both teams made the tournament.

I’m not saying we SHOULD lose this one. Cornell isn’t Memphis or Charlotte. But it does show that losing the opener really hasn’t dictated much for Syracuse in terms of end-of-year output. If the Orange come out flat tonight, it’s more likely a product of the team still coming together with all of their inexperience than it is a referendum on the program and season.