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Syracuse basketball arrives in Nebraska for first time since 1966

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The basketball program hasn’t seen any of this Great Plains state in the last 50 years.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round- Michigan State Spartans vs Syracuse Orange Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team has played in the state of Nebraska just five times in its history, but the most recent game was all the way back in 1966.

Back then, SU scheduled a home-and-home with the Creighton Bluejays, losing 103-87 over in Omaha, but following it up with a 114-104 barnburner at SU in late February. Coincidentally, Jim Boeheim was on that team -- an entertaining link to the program’s history (as always), but also a connection to the odd Creighton series from over half-a-century ago.

Syracuse played in Omaha four other times, all in the 1930s. As Ray explains on OrangeHoops, the teams would play alternating series of two home games and two away games each year from 1929 to 1932 to accommodate travel difficulties between the two cities. In 1929, they played on back-to-back days in Syracuse. Then in 1930, it was two in Omaha. The pattern followed for 1931 and ‘32.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round- Michigan State Spartans vs Syracuse Orange Rick Osentoski -USA TODAY Sports

In all, Syracuse split the Omaha games 2-2 (same with the home games too, actually). winning 27-25 in 1930 and 25-19 in 1932. Those were the pre-shot clock days but some onlookers now think the Orange are turning the game back to that era with its low-scoring slogs so far in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

We bring up Omaha because that’s where Syracuse plays on Friday night, against the Duke Blue Devils. A choice few Nebraskans think we have some beef with the city. In reality, it’s just that everyone on the current team (and most of the current fan base) is pretty unfamiliar with the place.

If Syracuse wants to get far more familiar with Omaha, they’ll need to beat Duke on Friday, then get to the Elite Eight against either Kansas or Clemson. Right now, SU’s record in the state of Nebraska is 2-3 (they’ve never faced the Cornhuskers). A trip to the Final Four would make them 4-3.

While that’s still only a small handful of games in the program’s long history, it’s still not the lowest total for any one state. They’ve never played in the state of Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming. They’ve also just played a handful of games in Alabama, Arizona and Arkansas (one apiece).