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Five bold predictions for the 2017-18 Syracuse men’s basketball season

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Here we go...

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Syracuse vs Miami Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of the year again to throw out irrational predictions that we all hope land.

How often do they land? I’d say about 15-20% of the time.

Syracuse basketball opens up its regular season tonight against Cornell. The Orange will look to make it 14 straight season-opening victories, which makes the last opening night loss back when a certain freshman Carmelo Anthony made his debut.

Here are five bold predictions as we head into Jim Boeheim’s 42nd season as SU head coach:

1. Syracuse wins 20+ games

With such a young and inexperienced team, it’s hard to predict how this Syracuse basketball team will handle adversity. With an experienced coaching staff, a go-to scorer in Tyus Battle, a grad transfer in Geno Thorpe and talented freshmen on the roster, Syracuse has what it takes to get to 20 wins. If SU can get to 20 (or more) wins, we’ll be dancing.

2. Bourama Sidibe will become the starting center by ACC play

This isn’t much of a bold prediction, I’ll admit — but I do think it happens. Sidibe has shown in practice and the two exhibition games that he deserves a lot of run on this year’s team. It’s early, and he hasn’t played a second of meaningful college basketball yet, but the comparisons to Baye Keita but “with an offensive game” is quite intriguing.

3. Oshae Brissett will have a one-and-done type season

Brissett, a talented forward from Canada, has the ability to be a one-and-done type player. Will he live up to that hype as the go-to frosh for the Orange? Only time will tell.

It’s hard not to love Oshae’s game. He can do it all — shoot from 3, get to the basket, rebound, play active defense and he has leadership traits that can’t be taught. Brissett has that killer instinct on the court. If he plays to his ability for 25 or 30 games, we could be talking about a one-and-done season in a few months. And if he’s that good, it can only mean good things for this year’s team.

4. Syracuse will go 12-1 in non-conference play

If you look at Syracuse’s non-conference schedule this season, there are some challenges. No one can debate that. SU’s toughest test will be against Kansas when the two teams play down in Miami. I predict a loss for the Orange in that game, but that could be the only non-conference loss.

On the tougher side of things, SU will host Oakland, St. Bonaventure and Maryland — which all have different challenges. The Orange will also travel to MSG to play Connecticut.

There’s a chance SU could escape 12-1 if most, if not all, breaks fall their way. The likelihood of that happening isn’t great, but outside of the Kansas game there’s a case for SU to win all of them. And even the KU game is winnable. Anything can happen on any given night in college hoops.

5. Howard Washington will secure most minutes at PG

I’ve been on the Howard Washington bandwagon for four years, and I’m not jumping off now. From the first time I saw Washington play at Canisius I thought he’d be a high level D-I player — and I’ll be the first to remind you of that every chance I get. At the time he was a skinny frosh with some impressive basketball instincts. I saw a true point guard that could run an offense with ease.

Fast forward four years and that’s exactly what Howard has turned into. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Washington is SU’s No. 1 point guard by the end of the season. His ability to control the offense, find open teammates and score rival Frank Howard’s ability through three seasons with the Orange.

Washington will have to battle with Geno Thorpe for time at the point guard spot, too. But if Washington plays under control and limits his turnovers, I can see this prediction coming true.