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Looking at Syracuse men’s basketball efficiency rankings in the KenPom era

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How have the Orange ranked over the years? (and what does it all mean?)

Syracuse v Virginia Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

As we continue to look back and look forward at where the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team has been trending, today we’ll look at their final spots in the KenPom rankings.

If you’re not familiar with KenPom then here’s a brief overview. The ranking is based on Adjusted Efficiency Margin. The offensive ranking is based on Adjusted Offense (points scored per 100 possessions) while the defensive ranking is based on Adjusted Defense (points allowed per 100 possessions). The offense and defense is adjusted based upon opponents so you can’t raise your rankings based on beating up weaker opponents.

Syracuse v Marquette Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

These rankings provide a solid look at how the Orange have fared since the rankings began back in 2002:

Syracuse MBB Final Ken Pom Rankings

Year Final Rank Offense Defense
Year Final Rank Offense Defense
2021 42 24 77
2020 51 21 116
2019 39 59 30
2018 41 135 5
2017 55 50 119
2016 27 50 18
2015 53 117 20
2014 18 28 13
2013 9 26 6
2012 5 7 16
2011 13 24 17
2010 3 6 14
2009 16 10 39
2008 47 43 75
2007 40 60 32
2006 50 60 67
2005 16 14 33
2004 30 31 50
2003 8 17 14
2002 56 114 22

It’s probably not surprising to Syracuse fans that the Orange have finished in the Top-10 on four occasions: 2003, 2010, 2012, and 2013. Four is also the number of years that Syracuse has finished outside the top 50: 2002, 2015, 2017, 2020. Syracuse is also on a run of five years of finishing outside the top 35 at the end of the season.

When you dig into the offensive and defensive numbers you’ll see a lot more variation over the 20 years. The 2010 team had the most-efficient offense (6th) while the 2018 team had the most-efficient defense (5th) and unfortunately for that squad they ended up as the least-efficient offense (135th). The 2018 being so good defensively is shocking when you realize the 2017 squad was the worst defense ranking 119th.

Balance has been escaping the Orange in recent years. The last team to finish ranked in the 50 in both metrics was 2016 and the last group to finish ranked in the top 30 in both was 2014 and that was the end of a five-year run of Syracuse being that good on both ends of the floor. I’m not sure we all realized just how well the team played during that stretch even if it only resulted in one Final Four appearance.

Any of these rankings surprise or stand out to you? What do they suggest? Are things still fine? And if not, what’s the biggest change that needs to happen ASAP?