Anticipation is in the air for the the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team as we wait for the team to officially kick off its 29-game slate for the 2023-2024 season.
Coach Felisha Legette-Jack and the Orange finished 20-13 (9-9) last year and will look to earn their way back to the NCAA Tournament by powering through 11 non-conference and 18 ACC games in this season’s schedule.
Let’s take a deep dive of Syracuse’s upcoming schedule and highlight the most important games you need to mark on your calendars:
Marquee Game of the Year
That would be on February 22 at home versus the Duke Blue Devils... and no, not just to keep the Duke-Syracuse rivalry still afloat. Duke projects to be the very last program with a bye according to ESPN’s latest bracketology and sits just outside of the preseason AP top-25. Duke is a tough, elite team which finished 26-7 last season but dealt with some major transfer portal departures this offseason. The Blue Devils will have the name-brand and talent to be a resume-booster should the Orange be able to defend home court.
Plus, with the Duke game for men’s basketball on the road this season, maybe the students can still come out and camp — but this time for the women’s team.
The best single-game opponent is a toss-up between the #8 Virginia Tech Hokies and #14 Maryland Terrapins. The Hokies are a veteran-loaded program coming off a Final Four appearance, an ACC championship and a 31-win season. They’re the early favorites to win the conference again and will enter the year seventh on ESPN’s way-too-early top-25 list. That list also includes Maryland (28-7 last season), who have appeared in three-straight Sweet Sixteens, at 13th.
The toughest home-and-home series is against #10 Notre Dame for a couple reasons. Even with Olivia Miles not healthy, the Fighting Irish are still an elite program. Syracuse having to kick off ACC play against Notre Dame means they’ll need to be in good standing after the non-conference slate.
Toughest Stretch of Games
The beginning of the ACC slate is pretty tough overall and gradually gets a big more manageable in February. The Orange will play the conference’s arguably four best teams (#18 Florida State, #10 Notre Dame, #8 Virginia Tech and #17 Louisville) between January 18 and February 1, including road games for the Fighting Irish and Cardinals. Each of those opponents are slated to be a fifth seed or higher in current NCAA Tournament projections.
Where will the Orange’s fate this season be determined?
As we’ve discussed before, the Orange have to do a better job a) showing consistency/improvement throughout the season and b) taking advantage of the resume-building opportunities out there.
Obviously, the non-conference slate will be important to watch for. Syracuse completely torpedoed the in-state programs but dealt with tough road losses to Penn State and Purdue as well as a nail-biting 60-58 win over Yale. Outside of the Maryland game, Syracuse has got a great chance against all its non-conference opponents.
Similar to the men’s team, Syracuse’s ACC schedule is tough out of the gate but ends with a bunch of toss-up games. Be on the lookout during the Orange’s final six games between February 11 and February 29 — which includes home games versus Louisville (Syracuse’s best chance to upset the Cardinals), Duke and Pittsburgh as well as road games against Miami (a “First Four Out” team), Virginia and NC State.
There’s a lot of fun games up on deck for the women’s team this season. It’s clear Legette-Jack and the Orange know they’ll need to up their resume to clinch a spot in the tournament, and this year’s schedule reflects that goal.
Now comes the question on if Syracuse can capitalize on the opportunities given to them.
Now it’s your turn: what are your thoughts on the upcoming schedule for the Orange? Which game are you most excited for?