It’s no secret that the Syracuse Orange have one of the best home court advantages in the NCAA. Although overall attendance is down from the 2019-2020 season (nearly 3,000 less fans on average), the one thing that has changed for the better is the student support.
Otto’s Army, the Syracuse student section, has been out in full force since fans were allowed back into the Dome. Back during football season, the group set a new attendance record in the game against Clemson: 5,768 student tickets sold. The previous record for football was 4,900.
The southwest corner of the Carrier Dome remained packed going into basketball, and that has translated into success on the court. The Orange are 7-0 at home while classes are in session. That number jumps to 8-0 if you include the January 18 matchup against Clemson, when many students had already moved in despite classes being delayed a week.
One of the larger showings this year was on January 29 against Wake Forest. In “the Blizzard,” Otto’s Army held a white-out, with many students receiving free t-shirts. They piled in and ended up filling up the upper deck all the way to the top row.
The best student section. pic.twitter.com/cdLK6uU1wn— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) January 30, 2022
This came after the Orange had fallen under .500 (9-11 going into the game) and many were ready to give up on the season altogether. The result on the court was a resounding 94-72 win over the Demon Deacons. After the game, Buddy Boeheim couldn’t help but mention the electric atmosphere.
Good amount of people on here told the fanbase to not show up to the game tonight.— Jonathan Danilich (@jdanilich) January 30, 2022
The students responded by coming together for the largest non-Duke student crowd in quite a long time.
Positivity > Negativity, and the team fed off it tonight. Let’s keep making a difference. pic.twitter.com/PGxbPhIIEd
“I hope it’s like that the rest of the year. We play well off them,” Boeheim said. “Their energy was contagious.”
“Not having the students is really a game changer,” he added. “Having them there tonight (after winter break) was really awesome.”
Even Head Coach Jim Boeheim is taking notice of the recent outpouring of support. Just a week later, he had these remarks following a 92-69 win over Louisville.
“I couldn’t be happier or prouder of the fans we have. The students have been great.”
Now, the group is ready to break another student attendance record, this time in basketball. Normally, students are capped at 5,000 tickets for Duke games, since it is such a huge draw regardless. However, an exception was made this time, and Otto’s Army now looks to shatter its old mark.
You heard them, @OttosArmy isn't messing around. Men's Basketball hasn't lost at home with the student body in attendance, so you won't want to miss this Saturday vs. Duke! ️ - https://t.co/gmAucIsNe1 https://t.co/W21ODRp1Wu— ‘Cuse Promos (@CusePromos) February 22, 2022
As you’re reading this, some of the diehards are already camping out to snag the best seats in this historic matchup.
Though it will probably be in the nosebleeds, I’ll be among that group to pile up behind one basket, as they do for every home game. And while the odds may not be in Syracuse’s favor, thousands of fanatics will be doing our part to will them to another improbable victory.