It’s a great time to be a Syracuse Orange fan. Not only is the football team on a roll (ranked No. 13!), while women’s basketball also brings high expectations, but the 2018-19 men’s basketball campaign is finally upon us. Returning all five starters from last year, the hype is already getting pretty loud for another deep postseason run — this time, of the more expected variety.
After shocking the nation and dancing all the way to the Sweet 16 last year, the Orange won’t be sneaking up on anyone given the star powr across the roster. Plus, they’ve added quality perimeter talent that loves to score in bunches, giving us the hope that the team is better-looking this year by way of both wins and play style.
This is sure to be a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, but if we learned anything about this team last year, it’s that you should never count coach Jim Boeheim and Syracuse out of any game. With tipoff a little over 24 hours away, TNIAAM’s staff provides their predictions for what happens during this Orange season:
Result: 23-8 (12-6); Elite 8
The Orange are poised to return to the ACC competitiveness level they displayed in 2014. Though with their usual early-season adjustment curve compounded by nagging injuries entering the year I’m leaving room for some early losses. Preseason showed an ability to balance offense without losing too much defensive skill in their lineups. This group’s balance and depth will drive them to at least the Elite 8. The Orange scheduled a difficult non-conference slate again and finish the year with a death platter of Duke, UNC and Virginia. The ACC could grow on arguably its best season ever. Seven teams rank in the preseason AP Top-25, 14 of the 15 schools appear in KenPom’s Top-100 including three of the top five. No. 4 Duke appears twice on Syracuse’s schedule. With all this in consideration, leave some room for error in SU’s final record. A finish on par with 23-8 could still rank among the school’s best ever given their competition.
Result: 30-7 (13-5); Final Four
I’ve never been so high on a Syracuse basketball team in recent memory, and that is in large part due to the fact that everyone is returning. Not only do the Orange have their impact players back for another run, but they have also added the key ingredient that they missed last year: Perimeter shooting. With Buddy Boeheim and Elijah Hughes now in the mix, the Orange will be harder to stop in terms of dribble penetration. The more balanced offense will lead the Orange to a top five ranking after the initial non-conference play, and they won’t let down in ACC play too. Syracuse will end up losing in the final of the ACC Tournament, leading them to a three seed in the big dance and eventually losing to a one seed in the final four. Tyus Battle will once again lead the Orange in scoring, and his name will be mentioned in the conversation for the Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year.
Result: 24-9 (11-7); Elite 8
Syracuse will make the semis of the ACC Tournament and earn a four seed in the NCAA. The season will end in the Elite Eight. Tyus Battle will lead the Orange in scoring and make the 1st team All-ACC while Oshae Brissett earns 2nd team honors. Syracuse will finish as a top five defense in the country.
Results: 31-9 (12-6); Sweet 16
It all comes down to health and to finding the right rotation. Assuming Syracuse can get and stay healthy, and Jim Boeheim can find his core group, then it should breeze through the non-conference, with the only blemish potentially coming on the road against a sneaky-good Ohio State team. The ACC is so loaded, and there will be a couple of tough stretches . However, this could be Boeheim’s best defensive squads since 2012, which will help SU steal some marquee road games in January and February. In the end, the Orange looks like a 24-7, 12-6 ACC team that will be expected to be playing in the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament at the least.
Results: 29-8 (12-6); Sweet 16 (4-seed)
I think Syracuse gets off to a hot start in a winnable non-conference slate of games, going 12-1 and shooting up to a top 5 ranking in December. As we know, Syracuse returns its starting five on top of Howard Washington and Bourama Sidibe and mixes in Jalen Carey, Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim. We know what we’ll get from the returnees, but how the new guys jell with the returning players remains to be seen. Still, Syracuse won’t be sweating it out come Selection Sunday and should be in the mix for a No. 3 to No. 5 seed come tournament time. I’ll slot the Orange at a No. 4 seed after going 12-6 in conference and I think Syracuse wins the ACC Tournament down in Charlotte (T-shirts, anyone?). That sets Syracuse up for back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances, but the Orange stops its season in the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend, falling to a No. 1 seed in its third tournament game.
Results: 27-9 (12-6); Sweet 16
Syracuse will definitely be a much more consistent team this year, with a deeper lineup and a better offense, meaning we’re not necessarily subjected to as many of the slugfests that defined the 2017-18 season. Expect Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett to live up to their NBA prospect hype, while Elijah Hughes’s shooting is really what sets this team apart from last year’s. SU gets to the ACC Tournament semifinals (after a double-bye), then rides a 5-seed to the Sweet 16, where they fall to one of several dangerous No. 1s. Orange fans may not necessarily be thrilled to see a better team finish in the same place, but as we know by now, the NCAA Tournament is a matchup game as much as it is a measure of skilled teams.
Now it’s your turn...
How will Syracuse men’s basketball’s 2018-19 season look?
This poll is closed
Lose during first weekend of NCAA Tournament
Marching right back to the Sweet 16
Fourth Elite 8 trip this decade
Back to the Final Four!
Book it: NATIONAL CHAMPS!!!!