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Syracuse men’s basketball is building a pretty challenging 2021-22 schedule

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That may not be a bad thing if they’re a bubble team once again.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

“I thought you only rant about Syracuse Orange football scheduling?”

Well, yes, that’s my specialty on the internet, but I have numerous other writing interests. One of them is Syracuse men’s basketball scheduling, which comes up today after Jon Rothstein reported on Thursday that the Orange would play Villanova at Madison Square Garden in 2021-22.

Though we’re pretty far away from tip-off and don’t even know everyone that will be on the roster yet, the schedule is certainly starting to materialize, and it does seem relatively tough — both in conference and non-conference play. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Just an early observation. We’ll get into whether that’s a positive after.

Here are the known aspects of Syracuse’s slate so far:

Home

(also probably facing at least one of Colgate and Cornell, plus an ACC/Big Ten Challenge opponent)

Road

Neutral

  • Villanova (New York, N.Y.)
  • Battle 4 Atlantis: (at least three of) Arizona State, Auburn, Loyola-Chicago, Michigan State, Connecticut, Virginia Commonwealth, and Baylor
NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

For any team, that’s a pretty challenging schedule when you look at the number of opponents in the Power Five and Big East (could be 26 of the 28 games above).

When the ACC expanded the league schedule to 20 games a few years back, Jim Boeheim seemed to indicate that the Orange weren’t necessarily going to line up a gauntlet of a non-conference slate to pair with that. Yet... this would certainly seem like a tough schedule, even without the three unknown elements that are probably all bodybag home games at the Dome. I mean, Duke and Florida State home and home is a difficult proposal for anyone. Even if it’s balanced out with four total games vs. Boston College and Wake Forest.

For this coming year’s Syracuse team, which replaces a bunch of main contributors already and may not have Quincy Guerrier back either, this could be the sort of schedule that makes or breaks them. If they’re on the bubble once more, the strength of schedule bump could be ideal, provided you win enough of those tough games. But we did pick a hell of a time for this sort of challenge given the fact that we’re incorporating three transfers, lose a bunch of athleticism and may be relying on freshman addition Benny Williams to be the next coming of Carmelo Anthony.

There’s also a chance the Battle 4 Atlantis doesn’t happen due to continued COVID concerns — not that we’ve heard as much — so TBD if the Villanova addition winds up filling in a blank instead of beefing up a big slate. Either way, we should be in for a lot of high-profile contests once the 2021-22 season gets going.