While it isn’t the only metric to evaluate success in college basketball, 75 years’ worth of weekly AP polls can do a very good job indicating who ranks as some of the most historically successful programs in the country. Three quarters of a century later, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball program is clearly in that conversation.
The Orange sit in the top-10 all-time in most total appearances on the AP polls, according to a special 75th anniversary poll released on Wednesday. Syracuse scored 7,980 points which was ninth-most in the anniversary poll, leading Michigan State by 717 points and trailing Indiana by 816 points.
To calculate the all-time AP poll ranking, all previous AP polls were evaluated using a points-based system where 25 points was awarded for any first place marks in a poll, 24 points for second place and one point for 25th.
Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina currently sit in the top-three all-time followed by Kansas at fourth and UCLA at fifth. Louisville and Arizona were the other teams to finish in the top-10.
Based on those assigned point values, Syracuse first made an appearance in the all-time top-10 back in 2000 and jumped as high as eighth all-time in most total AP poll votes in 2015.
Most of the success recorded in the AP poll notably took place at the apex of the Jim Boeheim era, which really saw an elite stretch of dominance from the mid-eighties until around the mid-2010s.
Between the 1979-1980 (Syracuse’s first year in the Big East) and the 2022-2023 (Boeheim’s final year as coach) seasons, Syracuse was listed in 27 preseason AP polls during this 44 year period (including as recent as the 2018-2019 season).
From 1980 until Boeheim retired, there were 23 instances where Syracuse ranked as high as 15th or better in the country according to the AP poll. Clearly, there were two major absolute peak runs under Boeheim.
One of those was between 1985 and 1991, a stretch which saw the Orange finish in the top-10 (ending as high as sixth) for seven consecutive years. That included peaking as high as first in 1988 and a top-three peak in the AP that stretched for four-straight seasons.
The other era in contention for the “Most Impressive Run” nod looks like the 2010 to 2014 period. Syracuse ranked as high as first for three seasons (2010, 2012 and 2014) and peaked as a top-three team every season during this five-year stretch. Syracuse ended in the top-five twice and top-16 or better in all five years.
Syracuse was one of four ACC schools (Duke, UNC and Louisville being the others) to rank in the top-10 which was the most out of all the other conferences. Both the ACC and Big Ten each had seven teams in the all-time AP top 25. Some notable, long-time rivals of Syracuse who made the all-time AP poll include UConn (17th), Georgetown (18th) and Notre Dame (22nd).
Here’s to hoping that down the road, the Syracuse under Adrian Autry can rediscover a way back into the AP top 25. The 2018-2019 season marks the last time Syracuse has entered a year in the preseason AP poll, and the Orange last made the AP top 25 on December 10, 2018.