Yesterday, it was announced that Syracuse will travel to Madison Square Garden to play St. John’s on Dec. 13 in their home-and-home series. Syracuse was riding a nine-game winning streak against the Red Storm until last year’s 69-57 defeat. Now with Chris Mullin taking over the helm for previous coach Steve Lavin, it will be intriguing to see what Mullin plans to do to penetrate the Syracuse zone.
This will come eleven days after playing NCAA men’s basketball runner-up Wisconsin on December 2 at the ACC/B1G challenge. This should be an interesting contest as Wisconsin loses Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker while Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig will lead the Badgers as Syracuse’s returning starters Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney will have the Dome rocking. Syracuse is 1-1 in this challenge since moving to the ACC in 2013. Wisconsin is 7-9 in this event losing to Duke last year 80-70 with Syracuse falling to Michigan 68-65.
Syracuse will also participate in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament which features Michigan, former Big East rival UConn, and Gonzaga. This tournament features eight schools which will travel to the Bahamas and compete in this year’s tournament. Coincidentally, Wisconsin defeated Oklahoma in last year’s final of the tournament.
Over the last three years, the Orange are 34-5 in non-conference play in the last three years and awaits the date for their continued rivalry with Georgetown which will be on the road this year. Syracuse is 49-41 in their all-time series against the Hoyas.
Their current record in the ACC is 23-13 since they joined the conference, but this year will have one major difference and that is that Jim Boeheim will be suspended for the first nine games as a result of the penalties handed down by the NCAA earlier this year for multiple violations. Assistant Mike Hopkins will get his chance to strategize and lead his players in executing the 2-3 zone that Syracuse is known for. The road schedule is going to be tough as last year’s best road win in the ACC came against Notre Dame as Trevor Cooney lead the way with nine shots from outside the arc.
The Orange had some really close victories last year in conference play with five victories by five points or less. The Orange lost BJ Johnson and Ron Patterson who transferred after the end of the season. Now with incoming recruits Malachi Richardson, Franklin Howard, Tyler Lydon, and Moustapha Diagne will accompany Cooney, Gbinije, and DaJuan Coleman who is returning from injury. The Orange has to avoid turnovers and foul trouble in close games. Cooney’s outside shooting and the athleticism of Gbinije as the floor leaders will be important to the Orange’s success this year. Diagne will replace Christmas in the middle and if Richardson can adapt to playing high level competition in the ACC, he should be able to become the next star for Syracuse. Even with recruiting limitations in the next few years and the possibility of Jim Boeheim retiring in three years, Syracuse is in good hands because their coaching staff always finds quality high school stars to commit to the Orange.