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Syracuse basketball: ACC-SEC Challenge roundtable

Some thoughts about the Orange men and women.

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Georgetown v Syracuse Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

Now that we know who the Syracuse Orange will face in the inaugural ACC-SEC Challenge, let’s find out what our staff thinks about the match-ups.

What are your initial thoughts about the Syracuse men facing the LSU Tigers?

Kevin: No Paul Skene for the Tigers right? Good. Honestly both teams are looking to rebound and LSU brought in a number of transfers so I think it’s a good challenge for the Orange coming off their Maui trip. It’s weird, but before we get to December we’ll have a good idea of what this Syracuse season’s post-season hopes will look like.

Dom: Regardless of how good LSU is, playing the Tigers as part of the non-conference schedule could still provide value. After falling by 29 points in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge last year, Syracuse rattled off five straight wins and won nine of their next 11. Was it the the most difficult schedule in the world? No, but this is a competitive matchup that Syracuse should be comfortable playing against.

Mike: It’s another OOC home game, which they desperately needed to counter trips to Maui, South Dakota, and D.C. (Yes, that is the oddest combination of road games I can think of.) It might not be the “resume builder” that some other SEC foes could have been but it’s a chance for a new head coach to get his team comfortable early in the season.

What are your initial thoughts about the Syracuse women facing the Alabama Crimson Tide?

Kevin: Hosting a game against a NCAA Tournament team is a great opportunity for the Orange to land a resume-building win. Expectations are raised after last season and Syracuse needs to capitalize while they have Dyashia Fair on the roster.

Dom: Felisha Legette-Jack and company are eyeing the NCAA Tournament prize with Fair and most of the core players back in the fold. Syracuse’s resume showed promise but lacked consistency. A home game versus Alabama (20-11, 9-7) provides an early resume builder and a tough matchup heading into the brutal winter.

Mike: If there aren’t “We want ‘Bama” chants at the game before this, I’ll be greatly disappointed. If marketing can do their jobs and use the big name of their opposition, then a decent crowd and strong performance can be what puts SU back in real Tournament talk.

Other than Syracuse, which MBB game stands out to you in the challenge?

Kevin: I’m looking at Duke heading to Arkansas. It’s another group of talented young players for Duke and if they can knock off Arkansas on the road, it’ll help the perception of the ACC.

Dom: The Miami-Kentucky game would be a total homer pick for me, so instead I’ll go with the promising Tennessee versus North Carolina matchup at Chapel Hill. Tennessee was 22nd or higher in every AP poll this past season, while UNC fell off the face of the Earth last year after entering as the preseason #1. Two different programs in two uniquely interesting situations.

Mike: I’ll be the one to say the U traveling to Lexington sounds very intriguing. Two genuinely good teams with different goals - the ‘Canes hoping to prove that last year’s deep March run wasn’t a fluke, and the ‘Cats reestablishing themselves as leaders of what has suddenly become a fierce basketball conference.

Other than Syracuse, which WBB game stands out to you in the challenge?

Kevin: Virginia Tech heading to play the defending champs at LSU. Can the Hokies build off last year’s Final Four run and knock off what should be a heavy favorite in the Tigers?

Dom: The Notre Dame-Tennessee matchup is quietly the best game in the slate. Notre Dame (3rd) and Tennessee (11th) rank as some of the best preseason teams in the NCAAW. The Fighting Irish are led by Olivia Miles and a stellar perimeter group, while the Vols are banking on defense and experience this year. This is a fun one.

Mike: The Clash of the Carolinas features the Gamecocks looking for revenge after just falling short of a perfect season, and the Tar Heels dressing a stacked senior class on the court.

Are there match-ups you would have preferred to see?

Kevin: Mike Rutherford of Card Chronicle pointed out that ESPN missed a LSU-Louisville women’s game which would have put Hailey Van Lith against her former team. On the men’s side I think it would have been more fun for Miami to play Alabama as they are two teams that like to play at a quick tempo.

Dom: Not much complaints on the men’s side, although I do agree with Kevin’s point on a potential Miami-Alabama matchup. On the women’s side, I would’ve liked to see Notre Dame play South Carolina somehow. Miami versus Ole Miss is a sneaky-fun hypothetical, too.

Mike: I’m biased in saying I wanted ‘Cuse to play Georgia in either, since I have family in Athens. (Then again, that could happen next year.) I agree about Miami and ‘Bama - let the two winningest teams from 2022-23 go at it.

Now it’s your turn. Let us know your thoughts in the comments: