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Syracuse basketball non-conference schedule takeaways and observations

Am I becoming the John Cassillo of basketball scheduling around these parts?

Georgetown Hoyas play the Syracuse Orange in mens Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Yesterday the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team finalized its non-conference schedule for the 2019-20 campaign. With that, we now know every regular season opponent Syracuse will play for the upcoming season with the exception of the second game of the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn.

While dates for ACC opponents have yet to be announced, we know that the Orange will move to 20 league games and play each of Boston College, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Virginia Tech twice. Without getting too into detail about the league schedule though, take a look at the non-conference schedule and takeaways below.

November 13: Colgate Raiders

November 16: Seattle Redhawks

November 20: Cornell Big Red

November 23: Bucknell Bison

November 27: Oklahoma State Cowboys, NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn)

November 29: Ole Miss Rebels / Penn State Nittany Lions, 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

Le Moyne v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

With that established, here are some takeaways.

Not a bad schedule

On its face, I know there’s not much to be excited about here and some Syracuse fans might be disappointed given the lack of marquee names on the non-conference slate. That doesn’t make it a bad schedule though, per se. Frankly it might be a good thing for a young and inexperienced team.

Given the move to 20 league games Syracuse will undoubtedly get its fair share of tough opponents this season, including Virginia to open the year. But that also leaves two fewer opponents in the non-conference for the Orange to challenge itself.

For the teams that are on the non-conference schedule, its all about the NET rankings of these squads and how they break down into quadrants. Oklahoma State, Penn State/Ole Miss, Iowa and Georgetown were all top 100 NET teams last season. If that holds again this season, that’s four quality opponents that will likely be in the Q1 or Q2 (win or lose) category come Selection Sunday. As a refresher, here’s how the quadrants break down.

Quadrant 1 (Q1): Home (1-30) Neutral (1-50) Away (1-75)

Quadrant 2 (Q2): Home (31-75) Neutral (51-100) Away (76-135)

Quadrant 3 (Q3): Home (76-160) Neutral (101-200) Away (136-240)

Quadrant 4 (Q4): Home (161-353) Neutral (201-353) Away (241-353)

Syracuse could very easily have three Q1 games if the two opponents in Brooklyn finish within the top 50 and Georgetown finishes within the top 75 in the NET.

I look forward to hearing that regurgitated take about how Syracuse only schedules cupcakes in November/December and never leaves the state of New York though. (Honestly, this year it’s kind of true, but almost all major P5 teams schedule similarly).

New York City presence remains

Syracuse will once again play in New York City in the non-conference. This checks a lot of boxes in terms of money and exposure. It’s also a great recruiting tool as Syracuse will play on national television, be able to showcase its program to recruits in the NY/NJ area and, is a nice recruiting pitch to tell kids that Syracuse plays at either MSG or Barclays every year.

This also satisfies the large alumni base that SU has in the city, and is big coup for the current players on the team. There’s no reason to believe that Syracuse will discontinue playing in the Manhattan/Brooklyn area any time soon, although its record leaves something to be desired of late. The Orange will also return to Barclays in 2022 for the ACC Tournament. Perhaps that will open things up for SU to compete in a bigger preseason tournament that year, like Maui or Atlantis.

Tough stretch

Syracuse will have its toughest stretch from late November into early December. The Orange hit the road for two home neutral court games in NYC on Thanksgiving weekend and then turnaround to play Iowa as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge the following Tuesday.

Then Syracuse hits the road to take on Georgetown. The good news? A nice hiatus in between the Iowa and Georgetown games.

Big Gap

Syracuse will have a nice 11-day break in between the Iowa and Georgetown games with finals week sandwiched in the middle of that stretch. That’s a nice win for the players who get a chance to focus on their school work for a bit without the added pressure of winning basketball games.

2K Empire Classic Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

A lot of former players’ and coaches’ sons

Hear me out. Basketball circles can be small at times.

We know that Jim Boeheim, Jimmy Boeheim and Buddy Boeheim will all reunite in the Carrier Dome when Cornell comes to town. But perhaps you didn’t know that LaPhonso Ellis’ son, Walter, plays on Bucknell.

Fran McCaffery will also bring his two sons to the dome as Connor, a sophomore, and Patrick, a freshman, are both on the team at Iowa this season. And who could forget Patrick Beilein — son of minted Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, John — taking the Niagara job?

Oh, and Georghe Muresan’s son plays at Georgetown. But he sucks. You probably could have guessed that though.

Try not to kill me in the comments for the weirdest take thus far.

Three New York Teams

Boeheim has traditionally liked to take care of “local” teams. While St. Bonaventure and Buffalo aren’t on the schedule this year, Colgate and Cornell will make their annual trips to the dome and Niagara will make the trek for the first time since 2000 (H/T: Orange Hoops). The Orange are 53-28 all time against the Purple Eagles.

That some nice cash for the other teams’ athletic departments.

Syracuse v Georgetown

The Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry continues... for now

The Syracuse-Georgetown series is renewed for at least four more years and while we can sit around and debate whether or not it’s still a rivalry, the matchup probably remains for as long as Jim is at the helm.

As many have probably already noticed, the UConn game was not renewed this year. Syracuse now has just 11 non-conference slots available given that the ACC is going to the aforementioned 20 game league schedule. It’s unclear at this time if UConn’s pending return to the Big East will have any effect on its ability to get back on SU’s schedule, but with a BE foe in Georgetown already on the docket for the next four years, I think it’s unlikely as long as Syracuse is still playing in NYC.


Any other observations you’d like to point out? Who else would you have liked to see on the schedule this season? Let us know in the comments.