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Syracuse women’s basketball: A look at where the Orange stand with non-conference games complete

It’s time to take stock of the Orange’s season so far.

Syndication: Journal-Courier Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s hard to believe, but the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (10-2, 1-0) is over 40% of the way through its schedule for the 2022-2023 season. It feels like yesterday when we did our season preview for this year’s Orange.

With the team on a week-long hiatus and non-conference play in the books, now is a good time to take stock of Felisha Legette Jack’s group. From here on out, the Orange compete solely against ACC opponents in its final 17 regular season games. In other words, things are about to really ramp up here for Syracuse.

Let’s start off with Syracuse’s resume and where the Orange rank among the rest of the NCAAW with months worth of bracketology talk on the horizon.

As of Friday, Syracuse ranks as the 76th-best team in the NCAAW. In the context of the ACC, that puts the Orange 12th in its conference using the NCAAW NET ranking, just ahead of Wake Forest (77th) and slightly behind the next tier of ACC teams such as Clemson (66th), Georgia Tech. (65th), and Miami (63rd).

How are the Orange so low despite its 10-2 record?

NCAA Womens Basketball: Stony Brook at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Well, context matters. Nine of Syracuse’s 10 wins are against NET-101+ programs, with only the Orange’s recent win against Wake Forest being the only victory against a top-100 opponent.

On the flip side, the Orange already suffered two top-100 losses this season, first to Penn State (58th) and later to Purdue (39th). There’s both a half-empty and half-full approach to looking at the pair of road losses. On the one side, Syracuse led by over 20 points to Penn State before completely imploding, then kept things close versus a top-40 team in the NCAAW in Purdue. But on the other side, the Orange’s resume lacks substance, at least for now.

It’s also been stated time and time again, but you can’t overlook how deep the ACC is this year. Four ACC programs (NC State, Notre Dame, Duke, and Virginia Tech.) rank as top-12 teams in the NCAAW, with an additional four (North Carolina, Virginia, Louisville, and Florida State) sitting inside the top 35. Out of all conferences, the ACC has the most teams (five) ranked in the NCAAW NET top 20.

Now, why does any of this matter?

Let’s look back to last season. At this point in December 2021, Syracuse sat at its highest point with an 8-4 record, including a six-game win streak heading into conference play. After that semi-strong start, the Orange finished 3-14 the rest of the way in 2021-2022.

Now, we have to give credit where credit is due. Head coach Felisha Legette-Jack deserves nothing but praise for turning an almost-completely new roster into (at least) a program that will compete on a night-to-night basis. Keep in mind: Teisha Hyman remains the only starter from last season’s campaign still on the team. Other than that, it’s been a roster filled in with 10 transfers and lots of holes to fill. This is a long-term rebirth of the Syracuse women’s basketball program, and this season marks just the first chapter.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Stony Brook at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Compared to last season, this team has more toughness, depth, and versatility. Off the court, there’s an actual voice in the locker room and a culture setter with coach Legette-Jack that Syracuse desperately needed in 2021-2022. That alone will keep Syracuse in a lot of these games, especially these difficult road matchups against ranked ACC opponents.

And, there’s an underdog mentality you have to factor in. Few believe in this team, and most of Syracuse’s success has gone under the radar. Even if the Orange just stay at .500 in conference play this season, that is a leap of an improvement compared to last year’s disaster.

With that said, it’s hard to deny how difficult the road is moving forward for the Orange:

Syracuse’s Upcoming Schedule

Opponents Opponent Overall Record NCAA NET Ranking AP Top 25?
Opponents Opponent Overall Record NCAA NET Ranking AP Top 25?
Louisville (road) 10-4 30th HM
NC State (home) 11-1 7th 7
Pittsburgh (home) 7-5 107th NR
Clemson (road) 9-4 66th NR
Boston College (road) 11-4 91st NR
Notre Dame (home) 10-1 8th 5

The Orange have embraced the underdog mentality under coach Legette-Jack, but we’ll see if this year’s Orange can pull off some magic and make a run at an NCAA bid.