Day & Time: Saturday, December 2, 2017, 5:30 p.m. ET
Location: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Fla.
Line: (will update once they’re live)
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Kansas blog: Rock Chalk Talk
Rivalry: 3-2, Syracuse leads
Current Streak: 2, Orange (including one very important meeting in 2003)
First Meeting: Syracuse headed to Lawrence in 1968 and got stomped by the Jayhawks, 71-41. One of the three Bills in the regular rotation, Bill Smith, led SU with 11 points while the offense sputtered. The Orangemen would finish that season 9-16, while KU was good but not great. They went 20-7, losing to Boston College in the NIT.
Last Meeting: Syracuse and Kansas met in the final game of the 2008 CBE Classic, at a “neutral” site in Kansas City, Mo. Being the ranked team of the two, KU got out to a big lead, and took a 41-30 advantage into the break. However, SU mounted a furious comeback in the second half, sending the game to overtime on a Jonny Flynn three-pointer. Syracuse’s offense continued its hot streak in the extra period, outscoring Kansas 17-9 and pulling off the 89-81 upset. That was the first sign that year had a chance to be at least a little special (and it was).
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (42nd year, 1,010-357); Kansas: Bill Self (15th year, 422-87)
Coach Bio: Right after finishing up his playing career at Oklahoma State, Self headed to Kansas’s bench, then promptly returned to Stillwater, Okla. through 1993. He’d take over Oral Roberts and in four years built them up from a team with single-digit wins to a 21-win NIT squad. Self loved Tulsa so much, he decided to just stay there and guide the Golden Hurricane next. By year three, Tulsa was 32-5 and made the Elite 8, prompting a move to Illinois. The Illini won at least 25 games for three straight years, before he landed at Kansas. He’s been there ever since, taking home at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title every year since 2005, making two Final Fours and winning it all in 2008.
Last Year: The Jayhawks spent just two weeks outside the top five throughout the entire season, going 31-5 overall and 16-2 in the Big 12. Kansas was upset by TCU in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament, but that didn’t stop them from earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. They ran through their first three opponents before getting hammered by Oregon in the Elite 8. Self hasn’t guided the Jayhawks to a Final Four since 2012 now, despite being a heavy favorite to do so — especially in the last two years.
Last Game: KU’s offense did whatever the hell it wanted against Toledo, outscoring them by 29 in the first half, then coasting to a 96-59 victory on Tuesday. Senior guard Devonte' Graham led all scorers with 35 points, while three other Kansas players also hit double digits. They shot 59.1 percent from the floor, and 60 percent from three. It was not pretty and Toledo put up far less of a fight in this one than they did against Syracuse.
"Fear Me, I've Killed Hundreds of Timelords": Pick your poison as KU has five different players currently averaging 13.5 points or more on the season. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk has probably been the biggest problem of all, with 18.2 points and four rebounds per game, while also hitting 56.4 percent of his three-point shots. At 6-foot-8, he’s a tough assignment beyond the arc, even given Syracuse’s surprisingly effective big men this year. Focusing in on him alone likely gets you burned elsewhere, however.
If Syracuse Wins: All bets are off on what happens this season. Syracuse would be 7-0, with wins over both Maryland and Kansas, and one could argue they’d still be scratching the surface on what this young team can mature into. A neutral site victory would be enormous as well, especially since it plagued our resume last year when it came time for NCAA Tournament selections. Also, we’d spend a day or so just posting gifs of Hakim Warrick’s block to celebrate.
If Syracuse Loses: Not the worst thing in the world, necessarily. It’s Syracuse’s first game away from home this year and Kansas is No. 2 in the country. Depending on what Duke and North Carolina round into, this could end up being the toughest team we face all year. It’s also a nice strength of schedule boost, even with an L. (still, if we want to go ahead and win this one, I’m cool with it)
Fun Fact No. 1: Freshman Billy Preston has yet to play a game for KU given the investigation around a car accident. You’ll likely recognize the name since the forward was a top Syracuse target at one point — however, he’d end up choosing the Jayhawks over the Orange and USC. This robbed us of using this gif ever again. So sad.
Fun Fact No. 2: Including Saturday’s game, Kansas has played the Orange the most times (six) of any opponent without ever setting foot on Syracuse’s campus. SU visited Kansas in the initial bout, then the next three were all in the NCAAs. These most recent two (2008 and this year) were both neutral site games.
(BONUS) Fun Fact No. 3: Of course...