What’s going to happen this year? (assuming the season happens as planned, of course)
Believe it or not, we’re supposedly just days away from the 2020-21 Syracuse Orange men’s basketball season. Assuming all goes off without a hitch (or with as few of them as possible), you’ll thankfully have a distraction from football by the end of this week.
With that in mind, the TNIAAM staff wanted to provide their own predictions for what’s going to happen this year. Since we don’t really have a clear look at the non-conference schedule, we’re just going to pick Syracuse’s record in ACC games, plus projected postseason finish where applicable.
John: 10-10, first round of NCAA Tournament
With disconnected seasons likely creating an even greater bias toward Power Five schools making the NCAA Tournament, a middle-of-the-pack Syracuse squad is helped out a bit. They won’t be worldbeaters, but this Orange team can out-shoot several foes and there’s upside for a group that largely “should” have more chemistry than most. The biggest concern, of course, is the defense. If we see improvement from the guards, then the ceiling goes up. Concern No. 2 is involving the big men on offense. SU’s played a little too much 3-on-5 of late. Seeing Marek Dolezaj, Quincy Guerrier and Bourama Sidibe more involved can work wonders and provide more space for outside shooting.
Kevin: 11-9, first round of NCAA Tournament
I think Syracuse’s returning players will step forward enough to somewhat compensate for the loss of Elijah Hughes on the offensive end I worry about two things: Rebounding and a go-to scorer. Last year Hughes handled the ball a lot and could be counted on to create for himself and others. Maybe Alan Griffin can assume that role but I struggle to see how Syracuse has solved the rebounding and defensive issues which cost them dearly last season. I think the Orange squeak into the NCAA Tournament but are one and done.
Christian: 11-9, first round of NCAA Tournament
Don’t be surprised if we see some stupid losses for the dumbest reasons. I have a bad feeling that the Orange are going to struggle on the road, and in that case SU might have to shoot their way out of sticky situations. I honestly don’t know where consistent scoring is going to come from, despite the improved offensive looks last season. I think Syracuse is going to be a streaky offensive team, which puts them back at everyone’s favorite place: firmly on the bubble. The Orange might just sneak into the tournament, but a first round loss seems inevitable.
James: 11-9, NIT
Normally I’d be a little bit more optimistic, but Syracuse returns many of the same players from an 18-14 squad that lost its best player. The defense ranked 116th in defensive efficiency last season, the second worst in the Ken pom era under Jim Boeheim. I don’t dismiss the notion that players will all be one year better, but SU lost its best defender and to get from 116 to a top-50/40 defensive team would be a tremendous accomplishment. It remains to be seen how the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will evaluate teams fairly this year, but I don’t think the ACC is good enough this year for a team to finish 11-9 and make the field of 68.
So, what do you think?