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Syracuse men’s basketball: Orange face difficult 2021-22 schedule

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Would we even be TNIAAM if we didn’t analyze scheduling?

Syracuse v North Carolina Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images

On Thursday, dates were announced for the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team’s ACC opponents. The non-conference schedule was already complete and ACC foes were known, dates were the only hold up. Now, with dates announced, the full 2021-22 basketball schedule is complete.

Syracuse continues with a 20 game ACC schedule. But the program also pieced together one of its toughest non-conference schedules.

If the Orange miss the 2022 NCAA Tournament, it won’t be because of its strength of schedule. There’s ample opportunity in the schedule to build a résumé and, in the same breath, struggle to win games.

Let’s take another look at the schedule and take a deeper dive on what it all means.

Syracuse v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Tough stretch

Syracuse faces a daunting schedule beginning just two games into the season. The Orange play 2021 NCAA Tournament teams in Drexel and Colgate. Syracuse will also participate in the Battle 4 Atlantis where it will face VCU in the first round, potentially the defending National Champions in Baylor in the second round and either UConn, Michigan State or Loyola-Chicago on the third day.

If that’s not enough, Syracuse will return home to take on Indiana in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, then travel to Florida State to take on the Seminoles, then to Madison Square Garden to take on Villanova and then down to Washington, D.C., to take on Georgetown.

Starting with Drexel on Nov. 14, Syracuse could possibly play in a stretch of nine games where eight opponents participated in the 2021 NCAA Tournament (and four made the Sweet 16). Well, VCU didn’t participate in the tournament necessarily, but you get the idea.

Some of that depends on how the bracket shakes out in the B4A. But the only team that didn’t make the field of 68 of those aforementioned nine teams is Indiana, who brings back a Player of the Year candidate in Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Maybe I’m over hyping this stretch, but this could very well be Syracuse’s most difficult set of games to begin a season... ever?

Given the Orange’s recent early season struggles, what could go wrong?

Saturday games

If you’re a Syracuse fan that doesn’t like to attend weekday games, you’re in luck. The Orange will host nine (!) Saturday games in the Carrier Dome this season. Those games are as follows: Colgate, Lehigh, Virginia, Florida State, Wake Forest, Louisville, Boston College, Duke and Miami.

Even in these times that should help the attendance numbers.

Repeat opponents:

Repeat ACC opponents were already known. The Orange will face traditional ‘rivals’ in Pittsburgh and Boston College. Syracuse will face Florida State twice for the first time since 2015-16. The Orange will also get Miami and Wake Forest twice.

Oh, and Duke.

Duke v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

Duke twice

Perhaps you’ve heard: this will be Mike Krzyzewski’s last season coaching at Duke. Perhaps you’ve also heard that Syracuse will play Duke twice. That is somewhat significant. Coach K will be given his flowers as we go through the motions of Duke’s dog and pony show throughout the 2021-22 season. One of the stops on the roadshow will be the Carrier Dome on Feb. 26.

Syracuse-Duke has broken attendance records in the dome and has produced some epic battles. The final scheduled meeting between Jim Boeheim and Coach K will occur in late February. I’m not willing to go on record and say that College GameDay will be there. But what I will say is that College GameDay will probably be there.

Tough end

As we’ve come to realize over the years, the made-for-TV schedule usually ends for Syracuse with preeminent opponents. Syracuse has often used that to its advantage in recent history, earning wins late in the season to pad its NCAA Tournament résumé.

The Orange will have a tough stretch against Tobacco Road with the previously mentioned game against Duke on Feb. 26. Syracuse will then travel to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina on Feb. 28. That’s a tough two-game stretch in a short span. If Syracuse is on the bubble at that point those two games could prove to be pivotal for the team’s tournament hopes.

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What do you think? Excited for jam-packed schedule? Think it’s too daunting? Join the conversation below in the comment section.