With the 2017-18 college basketball season in the books, there are two annual traditions we look forward to. The first is “One Shining Moment,” while the other is the “way-too-early” top 25 rankings.
Lucky for us (I guess), the Syracuse Orange made some appearances in both this year.
We start with the positives:
To stay here, the Orange would need Tyus Battle -- a projected late first-round pick on ESPN.com -- and Oshae Brissett to return. If that happens, Jim Boeheim will have the personnel to start next season the way last season ended with wins over Arizona State, TCU and Michigan State in the NCAA tournament. He gets Frank Howard back. Five-star prospect Darius Bazley chose to turn pro and enter the G League, but Boeheim is Boeheim. Syracuse will figure it out.
Five-star recruit Darius Bazley’s decision to leap from high school to the G-League is a big blow to Syracuse, but the Orange still belong in the preseason Top 25 if Battle opts to return for his sophomore season. The second-team all-ACC selection is likely to at least test the waters after leading the Orange in scoring during the regular season and spearheading a surprise Sweet 16 run. The return of Battle, Brissett and Howard and the arrival of the sharpshooting Boeheim and the playmaking Carey should elevate a Syracuse offense that was often undermanned this past season. The Orange should remain elite defensively thanks to the size and length of their trademark 2-3 zone.
And Fan Rag’s Jon Rothstein is banking on Battle returning while picking Syracuse 17th overall.
While there’s credence to the theory that Syracuse is reliant on Battle’s return to score and be a high-level team next year, that also sells the rest of this Orange roster short. Frank Howard returns and ECU transfer Elijah Hughes will see big minutes no matter what (and has spent a year practicing in this system). Marek Dolezaj progressed significantly over the course of the year, and will man the four. Bourama Sidibe and Paschal Chukwu are both back and both healthy. Oshae Brissett is going to be one of the ACC’s top players, and a potential lottery pick.
Other outlets don’t necessarily agree -- either because they feel Battle is gone already, or don’t even believe in SU’s chances with him on the roster. The Athletic included Syracuse in their list of other schools in consideration. Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, Sporting News, 247Sports and College Basketball Talk all failed to include the Orange. We’ll add to this as the list grows over the course of the day.
Agree/disagree? Share your own thoughts below.