Niagara went 13-19 last season, finishing tied for ninth in the MAAC at 6-12. Their season ended in the first round of the league tournament, which in part led to the firing of head coach Chris Casey after six seasons at the helm. They replaced him with Patrick Beilein — son of former Michigan (and current Cleveland Cavaliers’) head coach John Beilein, and the former head coach of LeMoyne’s men’s basketball team.
Syracuse has faced the Purple Eagles 81 times since 1910, though the teams haven’t met since 2000. The Orange(men) won that matchup 95-69 at the Carrier Dome, with Damone Brown scoring 26 points to lead SU. All-time, Syracuse holds a 53-28 lead in the series, winning eight straight 1976 and 2000. The teams played home-and-home each year from 1950 to 1969.
This year’s Niagara squad has some renewed optimism with Beilein in charge, but also replaces a lot with leading scorers Marvin Prochet (15.7 points per game) and Dominic Robb (10.6) out the door.
So that leaves just one opening left in the 2019-20 non-conference schedule. Here’s what things currently look like:
November TBD: Bucknell Bison
November 13: Colgate Raiders
November 20: Cornell Big Red
November 29: One of Ole Miss Rebels / Penn State Nittany Lions / Oklahoma State Cowboys in NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn)
December 3: Iowa Hawkeyes
December 14: at Georgetown Hoyas
December 18: Oakland Golden Grizzlies
December 21: North Florida Ospreys
December 28: Niagara Purple Eagles
James hit on some of the potential opponents we could fill the final spot with, including Detroit, St. Bonaventure, Iona and Eastern Michigan being some of the top names there. Would add Vermont, Buffalo and Hofstra to the list on my end just in the interest of upping the strength of schedule.
Any addition to the slate likely comes soon, with the full ACC men’s basketball schedule rolling out in early August to get some ACC Network hype going too. There’s room in November between the 13th and 20th, so I’d bet on that being where things are filled.
But as mentioned, the SOS is a potential concern this year, albeit to what extent, we’re not so sure. Adding two ACC games will be a boost. Still, not a lot on this non-conference schedule stands out beyond a road game at Georgetown and the potential Iowa may have. Perhaps that’s enough. We’ll see in March, in any case.