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Syracuse men’s basketball: the Orange’s non-conference resume by the numbers

Taking stock of the Orange as the ACC slate approaches.

Niagara v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

Just like that, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (9-3, 0-1) officially reached the end of its non-conference slate for this season after defeating Niagara 83-71 at home last week. 11 games down, 19 more to go.

Thursday’s win wasn’t necessarily the prettiest, but coach Adrian Autry and the Orange properly took care of business in the non-conference part of this year’s schedule. Autry will certainly be wishing for a good Q1 or two this holiday season, but for now, the Orange’s start to the 2023-2024 season is not too shabby.

While the holidays are here, so too is the ACC part of the schedule from now until March for Syracuse. With the temporarily pause in action, it’s time to take stock of the Orange’s current resume following the conclusion of non-conference play and where the team stands heading into the rest of this season.

Syracuse finished with a 9-2 record against non-conference opponents this year, a drastic improvement compared to last season. That includes a Q2 win over Oregon and six Q3 wins, all of which were wins by double-digits with the lone exception of the game versus Colgate. All three of Syracuse’s losses so far (including Virginia) have been against ranked opponents.

Syracuse’s non-conference results from 2023-2024 season

Opponent Result (W/L) Type of Quad Win NET
Opponent Result (W/L) Type of Quad Win NET
New Hampshire 83-72 (W) Q3 158
Canisius 89-77 (W) Q3 137
Colgate 79-75 (W) Q3 150
Tennessee 73-56 (L) Q1 6
Gonzaga 76-57 (L) Q1 44
Chaminade 105-56 (W) N/A N/A
LSU 80-57 (W) Q3 157
Cornell 81-70 (W) Q3 92
Georgetown 80-68 (W) Q3 209
Oregon 83-63 (W) Q2 71
Niagara 83-71 (W) Q4 329

Without a doubt, the Orange are sitting in better standing at this point in the season compared to last year.

In Jim Boeheim’s final season, Syracuse finished 7-4 in non-conference games against a less-competitive schedule. All of the Orange’s non-con wins last year were against either Q3 or Q4 opponents, and Syracuse lost at home to Colgate (Q3) and Bryant (Q4) during that stretch. The Orange’s stretch of schedule for their non-conference slate in 2022-2023 ranked 243rd.

This season, Syracuse is in a much different spot.

Syracuse sits 83rd overall in NET as of Monday night, which is currently good for 11th in the ACC and just behind Wake Forest (77th), Boston College (74th) and NC State (70th). The Orange currently have the 67th-best strength of schedule in the NCAA (sixth-best out of all ACC teams) according to ESPN’s Men’s College Basketball Power Index and the 64th-best strength of schedule rating per KenPom (fourth-best in the ACC).

Non-conference resume: last season versus now

Season Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Season Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
2022-2023 0-1 0-1 2-1 5-1
2023-2024 0-2 1-0 6-0 1-0

Facing #13 Gonzaga and #6 Tennessee in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational certainly bumped up metrics this year, like the NET and strength of schedule. At the same time, unlike last year, Syracuse handled business against the teams it was expected to beat while facing tougher non-conference opposition. The Orange defeated their opponents by an average of 17 points in those nine wins (the average drops to around a 13-point margin of victory if you exclude the 101-53 demolition against Chaminade).

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 21 Niagara at Syracuse Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The big question moving forward is how Syracuse will fare the rest of the way, specifically how the Orange will stack up against the top teams in the conference. The Orange notably finished with a combined 1-12 record last year against Q1/Q2 opponents (0-7 versus Q1) and 16-3 against Q3 and Q4 teams.

So far, Syracuse is already 0-3 versus Q1 opponents and lost each of those games by 17 points or more.

We can’t sugarcoat it: the Orange’s upcoming stretch is brutal. Syracuse’s first six ACC games are all against Q1 and Q2 opponents — Pittsburgh (twice), #16 Duke (away), Boston College (home), #9 North Carolina (away) and Miami (home). As things stand right now, Syracuse will play 15 combined Q1/Q2 teams (8 Q1), 1 Q3 team and 3 Q4 teams the rest of the way.

If the ultimate goal for the program is to make the NCAA Tournament in Autry’s first season, Syracuse faces an uphill climb. Only five teams (Clemson, Duke, UNC, Miami and Virginia) are projected to make the tournament per ESPN’s latest bracketology update. Virginia Tech, who currently sit as a “First Four Out” team and the only other ACC team in the postseason bubble, ranks 49th in NET — 33 spots ahead of the Orange.

Syracuse will certainly have its fair share of opportunities to beat some quality opponents and make noise come closer to the spring.

As you can tell, however, the road ahead will absolutely be a difficult one.