On Thursday the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball program announced a Dec. 9 meeting with the Georgetown Hoyas and with that, the non-conference schedule is complete, according to Syracuse.com’s Mike Waters. With that in mind we take a deeper dive on the scheduling approach under first-year head coach Adrian Autry, one that doesn’t deviate too far from scheduling in years past.
Non-conference scheduling has always been a bit of a double-edged sword that has only become more delicate with an annual multi-team even (MTE), conference series matchups (ACC/SEC Challenge) and for Syracuse specifically, the Georgetown series. Not to mentioned a game that has become increasingly problematic with the perennial NCAA Tournament threat from the Patriot League in Colgate.
The challenge for high-major programs? Balancing a formidable non-conference schedule with a daunting league schedule. With 20 conference games, ACC programs have ample opportunity to build a résumé for the ultimate goal: the NCAA Tournament. But the NCAA Tournament selection committee has left power-five teams out of the field of 68 for having too soft or too lackluster of a non-conference schedule (see: Rutgers 2023). Teams need to schedule somewhat tough and need to beat someone, too. But too difficult of a non-conference schedule can lead to losses that force teams to do heavy lifting in conference play. High-major programs aspire to build a Goldilocks non-conference schedule that errs on the side of challenging.
Necessary still are buy-games at home to generate revenue from ticket sales and concessions while also ensuring a few easy wins baked in. Given those constraints and considerations, Syracuse seems to have struck that balance while honoring the tradition of playing some usual suspects like Colgate and Cornell to help fund those athletic departments (plus New York State teams in Canisius and Niagara).
The Autry era will begin with a two-game tune-up against New Hampshire and Canisius before the schedule gets taxing early. The Orange will look to win its first matchup with Colgate in three years just before a who’s who of basketball programs set out for the Maui Invitational — perhaps the best ever for the 40th annual event?
Syracuse will be tested early — being 3-3 or even 2-4 after Maui isn’t unthinkable. From there, the Orange return home to host LSU in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge, followed by Cornell before hitting the road to take on Georgetown in Washington, D.C. Syracuse then heads west to South Dakota to take on Oregon for a Sunday game sandwiched between final exams. Then its one last reprieve against Niagara before beginning conference play in earnest.
With all the above considered, we took a look at Syracuse’s opponents’ KenPom and NET rankings referencing 2022-23 data in an attempt to quantify the non-conference schedule.
Since we don’t have matchups announced for the Maui Invitational yet, we took the average ranking of all the teams in the field sans Chaminade and used one representative number for the field. Since we don’t have data on Chaminade, we’ve omitted using an arbitrary number as a placeholder and excluded the host team from the data. Of course, if Syracuse were to play the Silverswords that would dilute the strength of its non-conference numbers marginally.
In aggregate, Syracuse’s non-conference opponents have an average KenPom ranking of 134.4 and average NET ranking of 132.7 in 2022-23. That a solid number in the 35th percentile of total opponents, a good place to be.
If those numbers held in the NET quadrant system that would mark four quadrant one games, three quadrant three and four quadrant four games for Syracuse. All in all, Syracuse’s non-conference schedule is balanced and offers opportunities for both quadrant one games in the early going with some buy-games mixed in.
While opponents are known, expect the ACC to release dates for the full basketball schedule in September. We’ll have a full schedule then.
Area of interest
- Syracuse will have just six non-conference home games in the JMA Wireless Dome
- Colgate will look to beat Syracuse for the third consecutive time, something the program has done four times in the series that dates back to 1902
- MTEs reportedly don’t pay individual teams to participate in early season tournaments (unless its the Battle 4 Atlantis). Teams usually play in MTEs to boost their résumés and for national exposure
- Syracuse has never lost in the Maui Invitational
- Syracuse has a 22-12 all-time record against the programs in this year’s Maui field
- Syracuse has drawn Chaminade once in three Maui Invitational appearances, winning 82-44 in 1998
- Syracuse has never played a basketball game in the state of South Dakota prior to the matchup with Oregon, a program it has played just once (No Quincy Guerrier, who transferred to Illinois)
- Syracuse will not play a game in New York City this year
- The Orange will have plenty of exposure in the DMV area this season, a recruiting pipeline where Autry has strong ties, reinforced by the hire of Brendan Straughn
- The ACC Tournament also heads back to Washington D.C. in 2024 for just the third time ever
- Judah Mintz, Benny Williams, Justin Taylor and Maliq Brown are all DMV representatives on the Syracuse roster
Full Syracuse non-conference schedule below:
Oct. 27: Deamon (exhibition), JMA Wireless Dome
Nov. 1: College of St. Rose (exhibition), JMA Wireless Dome
Nov. 6: New Hampshire, JMA Wireless Dome
Nov. 8: Canisius, JMA Wireless Dome
Nov. 14: Colgate, JMA Wireless Dome
Nov. 20: Maui Jim Maui Invitational, Lahaina Civic Center
Nov. 21: Maui Jim Maui Invitational, Lahaina Civic Center
Nov. 22: Maui Jim Maui Invitational, Lahaina Civic Center
Nov. 28: LSU (ACC/SEC Challenge), JMA Wireless Dome
Dec. 5: Cornell, JMA Wireless Dome
Dec. 9: Georgetown, Capital One Arena
Dec. 17: Oregon, Sioux Falls, S.D., Sanford Pentagon
Dec. 21: Niagara, JMA Wireless Dome