The college basketball season might be over (congratulations to Baylor), but that isn’t stopping the media from releasing the ever-popular way-too-early top 25 rankings for next season.
A couple of media outlets have released these rankings, and they seem very high on the Syracuse Orange. Granted, a lot of that high praise might be due to Syracuse’s over-performance during the NCAA Tournament, but Orange fans will take it while they can.
All of these rankings do come with a massive caveat. Every media publication does say that the only leaving players are those who are seniors and those who are already in the transfer portal. That means that the rankings take into consideration that Quincy Guerrier and Alan Griffin will be back in Orange for the 2021-22 season. They also assume that Marek Dolezaj is leaving Syracuse, which is more likely than Guerrier and Griffin returning. Nonetheless, the rankings are probably justified in a best-case scenario for the Orange.
Let’s start with how Syracuse fares in these rankings, and then we’ll look at SU’s future opponents that also feature in these rankings.
‘Cuse could return four starters next season if everyone comes back. The only significant departures right now are that of Dolezaj and Richmond, but Jim Boeheim will bring back his son, Buddy, in addition to Guerrier, Griffin and Girard. The Orange also added Villanova transfer Swider, who can really shoot it, and one of the top frosh in the country in Williams.
Another team I might be overrating based on their March performance, but the Orange’s performance every March makes me feel confident this won’t look terrible a year from now. Buddy Boeheim emerged as a legitimate star, and Boeheim, Alan Griffin and Quincy Guerrier are one of the better offensive trios you’ll find in the ACC. The loss of Kadary Richmond to the transfer portal stings, since he’s a high-level playmaker and a likely NBA prospect. Jim Boeheim will roll with Joe Girard at the point guard spot, give him another shot-maker. Villanova transfer Cole Swider will bring shooting to the frontcourt and could enable Boeheim to go small with five scorers for stretches. But Boeheim generally prefers a bigger body in the middle of the zone, which seems like a weakness right now. Jesse Edwards and Frank Anselem could operate in that role if Marek Dolezaj leaves and Syracuse doesn’t hit the portal for a big.
Buddy Boeheim (17.8 ppg) went on a three-point shooting tear at the end of 2020-21 to guide the Orange off the NCAA Tournament bubble and into the Sweet 16. The sharp-shooting guard will be back, with his supporting cast of Quincy Guerrier, Alan Griffin and Joseph Girard III. Five-star Benny Williams will be extra ammunition.
Four words — Buddy Boeheim is back.
A lot of things have to go right for the Orange to justify the inclusion in these top 25 rankings. Guerrier returning would be extremely helpful for Syracuse as an experienced frontcourt member. Griffin would need to find more consistency on both sides of the ball to reach the potential that he has. Everyone is also high on Benny Williams and his potential impact on the Orange as well, which could mitigate the loss of Dolezaj to a degree.
So those are Syracuse’s rankings, but how do some of SU’s future opponents rank? We’ll take a look at the ACC teams and future Battle 4 Atlantis foes that are ranked.
- Duke (Stadium No. 7, ESPN No. 13, USA Today No. 2, Katz No. 20)
- Florida State (Stadium No. 9, ESPN No 9, USA Today No. 14, Katz No. 15)
- North Carolina (Stadium No. 20, ESPN No. 18, USA Today No. 19, Katz No. 18)
- Virginia (Stadium No. 24, ESPN NR, USA Today No. 18, Katz No. 32)
- Virginia Tech (Stadium NR, ESPN No. 10, USA Today NR, Katz NR)
- Georgia Tech (Stadium NR, ESPN NR, USA Today NR, Katz No. 33)
Possible Battle 4 Atlantis foes
- Baylor (Stadium No. 10, ESPN No. 11, USA Today No. 6, Katz No. 3)
- UConn (Stadium No. 22, ESPN NR, USA Today NR, Katz NR)
- Michigan State (Stadium No. 18, ESPN No 22, USA Today No. 13, Katz No. 16)
- VCU (Stadium NR, ESPN NR, USA Today NR, Katz No. 34)
In total that makes six ACC schools and four Battle 4 Atlantis teams getting a ranking in at least one of the four publications listed above. It’s shaping up to be another tough schedule for Syracuse as the basketball season (hopefully) returns to normal for the 2021-22 season.