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Jon Rothstein previews Syracuse basketball (and rest of ACC)

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Match ‘em up with the best conference in basketball

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

College Basketball insider Jon Rothstein dropped an ACC offseason notebook yesterday that didn’t mention the Syracuse Orange too much, but at least kept them in the conversation.

Rothstein talked about the ACC we will see this year, and said SU is looking to be one of many ACC teams playing meaningful basketball in March.

“Florida State, Syracuse, and Virginia will also begin practice with legitimate aspirations of hearing their names called on Selection Sunday. The bottom of this conference doesn’t appear to possess the same capabilities as it did a year ago, but the ACC is still positioned to get seven to eight teams in the field of 68 once again next season.”

He told it how all Syracuse fans know it is

“Syracuse and Virginia? They’re both retooling after finishing below their normal marks a year ago”

Not much to debate there. With a subpar end to the season the Orange are all up in the air. They are looking at the youngest lineup we’ve seen in years.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Rothstein put the Orange at number eight on the power rankings, with Florida State as the only team higher than SU that is not in his preseason top 25. Still, a nice upgrade from CBS Sports’ 12th-place projection.

Syracuse took some losses from last year’s team in Tyler Lydon, John Gillon, Andrew White, Dajuan Coleman and Tyler Roberson. So retooling is exactly what the Orange are doing.

Jim Boeheim will have to find the right fit to put the best starting lineup out with the younger group.

Rothstein also ranked impact freshmen, under-the0radar freshmen, impact transfers and breakout players. Here’s where the Orange hoopers fell:

Under-the-radar freshmen: Matthew Moyer and Marek Dolezaj. Moyer has a good chance to be a starting forward and has a quality shooting stroke. Dolezaj is a risk but is definitely way under-the-radar. He is an athletic and a versatile player, but it is a big question if he will fit in with this roster.

NCAA Basketball: South Florida at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

5 Impact Transfers: Geno Thorpe. Thorpe averaged 15.1 points, 4.6 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game at USF last year. He’s a solid three-point shooter and will be able to defend at the top of the zone (he’s 6-foot-4). We know how ‘Cuse loves a transfer that makes a difference lately.

Breakout Players: Frank Howard. Howard could be “that guy.” The guy who started getting some playing time as a freshman (and looked promising) and works with Boeheim to get better and better until he is a very good guard for the Orange. He played 16.2 minutes per game last year, averaged 4.5 points, 3.6 assists and a steal. Now he’s an elder statesman on this team and everyone is just waiting on him to breakout.

So Rothstein told us a bit of what we already knew. Syracuse is coming into the offseason as a very fresh group with high hopes of making the tournament. They have talent with their younger guys and a transfer that can impact the lineup. The wait-and-see game continues...