Syracuse Basketball: How no fans in stands may hinder home-court edge

Could Syracuse basketball prove destined for another relatively flat home performance?

Syracuse basketball wrapped up 2019-20 at 18-14, and the Orange likely would have missed the Big Dance unless the ‘Cuse ran the table in the Atlantic Coast Conference post-season tournament.

That, of course, became a moot point, after all of college basketball in 2019-20 came to a halt in mid-March because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. One surprising component to the Orange’s most recent season is that the ‘Cuse delivered a somewhat pedestrian 11-7 mark inside the Carrier Dome.

Oftentimes, Syracuse basketball is strong on its own turf, as the Dome is packed with upwards of 20,000 to 30,000 screaming fans, and the Orange typically goes toe to toe with Kentucky for the national attendance crown in the sport.

However, with the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, as Syracuse basketball looks to begin its 2020-21 term at home versus Bryant on Friday, Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving, there are a couple of things to consider here.

First and foremost, with the Orange’s basketball activities on pause because of positive Covid-19 tests by head coach Jim Boeheim and another member of the program, it’s unclear at this juncture whether the team’s season opener will even move forward as originally planned.

Secondly, even though there is no official word from the ‘Cuse athletics department, I can’t envision a scenario where a sizable number of fans, if any at all, will get to watch Syracuse basketball contests in-person on the Hill, at least for the time being.

So that begs the question (to me anyway), how will no fans in the stands affect the squad’s usual home-court advantage? Since the ‘Cuse only went 11-7 at home in 2019-20, some folks will likely chime in that home games without fans in attendance won’t really help or hurt the Orange.

My gut tells me that, regardless of what transpired a stanza ago, a packed Dome in 2020-21 would ultimately provide Syracuse basketball with a boost, giving the team a leg up on opponents in Central New York.

For me personally, nothing gets me more jazzed up than seeing our beloved Orange knock off a top-25 foe in a thrilling encounter on national television with 35,000-plus fans going bananas for the ‘Cuse.

We probably won’t witness that in 2020-21, which is a bummer. Then again, I’m simply hoping that the upcoming campaign occurs at all given the state of the pandemic in our country.

Interestingly enough, CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein recently published an article where he listed 10 groups that will “miss a true home court advantage during the 20-21 season.”

Rothstein, who did not include blue-blood programs, puts in his story Rutgers, which will host Syracuse basketball next month in the 2020 ACC-Big Ten Challenge, along with Cincinnati, Dayton, Arizona, Maryland, San Diego State, Auburn, BYU, Purdue and VCU.

Unless Rothstein for some reason considers the Orange a blue-blood squad, I believe that the ‘Cuse should have made the cut in his piece.