On Thursday, it was confirmed that Colgate would the 13th and final opponent on the 2017-18 Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team’s non-conference schedule. The school still hasn’t (officially) recognized the date of the Georgetown game, hence why you haven’t seen a release about the schedule being complete. But trust me, it is.
With all 13 teams set in stone, we figured why not rank the games in terms of interest level? Given SU’s recent scheduling practices, this slate obviously varies wildly from opponent to opponent. So some games will bring a strong amount of intrigue for the Orange faithful. And others? Not so much...
1. Kansas Jayhawks, December 2
Syracuse has faced Kansas since the 2003 National Championship, but on top of that history, there’s a novelty factor here too. It would definitely be more fun to have this game on campus (instead of in Miami), though it’s unlikely that removes much of the luster from what should be an entertaining contest. KU will be very good while the Orange will be... TBD. If SU scores a win here, it would be a huge boost to the resume.
2. Maryland Terrapins, November 27
This is the tune-up game for Kansas, which could potentially create a letdown on the front or back-end. Maryland should be a top 25 team, and the last time we faced the Terps, they were not happy about the ending. UM fans can also get a bit salty when facing ACC foes (even newer conference additions like ourselves). At the very least, this is a measuring stick and some internet fun.
3. Connecticut Huskies, December 5
Last year’s UConn game went down to the wire, and so did the one before that down in the Bahamas. In some ways, this year’s Madison Square Garden is the post-Big East rubber match (unless we get on each other’s schedules every year). Both fan bases will be riled up for this one, as you’d expect them to be. I could have easily put this one No. 1.
4. at Georgetown Hoyas, December 16
Some of you will call blasphemy and that’s fine. The Hoyas have become a downtrodden bunch since we left the Big East, despite them racking up two straight non-conference wins against us. Without a campus atmosphere down in D.C., the game also lacks some energy. Just hope that the Orange can break this odd losing streak.
5. Cornell Big Red, November 10
Normally, this game’s further down the list, but with Jim Boeheim’s son Jimmy now suiting up for the Big Red, this one becomes a little more of a spectacle. I’d still expect Syracuse to win, mind you. But the father vs. son dynamic brings an extra level of excitement to the season opener.
6. St. Bonaventure Bonnies, December 22
We’ve put some distance between the ball punch game at this point, and have even played against one another since. But it’s still a moderate draw to face the nearby Bonnies, who’ve recently gotten better at basketball again. We also received an NCAA Tournament bid over them in 2016. So maybe they’re still bitter about that too (in which case, gird your loins, SU).
7. Eastern Michigan Eagles, December 27
Since leaving Syracuse, Rob Murphy’s turned the Eagles into a respectable group, but not so much where they’ve truly tested the Orange in four matchups thus far. Expect EMU to bring some zone defense along, and for us to be better equipped than most to handle it (and if not, uh oh...).
8. Iona Gaels, November 14
Iona loses 12 of their 13 top scorers from last year’s team, but have still made four of the last six NCAA Tournaments (and the most recent two). The Gaels are well coached and at that early juncture in the season, perhaps there’s a thought their new guys can catch SU’s new guys sleeping (I wouldn’t bank on it).
9. Colgate Raiders, December 9
Hoodoo returns to the Dome for the umpteenth consecutive time, with the farfetched thought of breaking Colgate’s current 51-game losing streak to Syracuse. Coming off a 10-22 season, it’ll be the normal bloodbath, in all likelihood.
10. Texas Southern Tigers, November 17/18
TSU fell to North Carolina in the NCAAs, which -- hey, we can relate to that feeling. They’re the class of the SWAC, and had a pretty young team last year, so this might get a bit more stressful than we’d prefer. Maybe that makes for a more exciting viewing experience as a trade-off? I’d rather not.
11. Oakland Golden Grizzlies, November 20
Oakland was 25-9 last season, and nearly made it to the NIT quarterfinals (hey, samesies!). They’ll be a tougher test than many of the teams listed above them here, so it’s probably worth reading up on the Grizzlies a bit more than your average “lesser” non-conference foe.
12. Buffalo Bulls, December 19
No real reason here beyond the in-state thing, and the since retired “War of the Empire State,” in which Syracuse claimed an expected victory over the blue-hued Bulls. SU hasn’t faced Buffalo since 2001, and has taken 17 straight in the series dating back to 1963.
13. Toledo Rockets, November 22
When we told SB Nation MAC blog the Hustle Belt that we wanted to be considered for the MAC title each year, we went football. But this will do. Toledo’s here because of the Hoophall Miami Invitational. They’re probably still pissed about the 2011 football game.
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