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Syracuse Basketball: No preseason love for SU from pundits means squat

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /
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A challenging non-conference for SU

To revert back to my original discussion point here, with a first-year head coach, two sub-par seasons in a row, a big void to fill at center, a lot of new faces, a roster that includes all freshmen, sophomores and juniors, a big-time need to improve on defense and on the glass, and skepticism about how well the Orange will be from beyond the arc, it’s no surprise that pundits aren’t putting Syracuse basketball in their preseason top-25 ratings or their preseason bracketology projections.

As 2023-24 inches closer, I would expect that trend to continue. I would also expect the ACC’s preseason media poll to place the ‘Cuse within the middle-of-the-pack as far as the team’s forecast in the conference race.

Not to worry, though. Early on in the squad’s non-conference slate, the Orange will have ample opportunities to prove that it belongs in top-25 polls. While the non-conference docket isn’t fully known, Syracuse basketball will have three games in a loaded 2023 Maui Jim Maui Invitational.

The ‘Cuse will play Oregon at a neutral site. Syracuse basketball is expected to have an encounter in the inaugural ACC-SEC Challenge. I could see the Orange also facing Georgetown yet again, and first-year head coach Ed Cooley has been doing wonders on the recruiting trail to turn the Hoyas around.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Syracuse basketball not getting preseason love from pundits means nothing. It’s not how the Orange is projected to start the season; it’s how the ‘Cuse fares on the court and finishes the 2023-24 campaign.

Remember the 2002-03 stanza? Of course you do. The Orange wasn’t ranked in preseason top-25 polls. Yet Syracuse basketball finished at 30-5 overall and won a national championship. That sort of journey for the team in 2023-24 – from start to finish – would be just fine to me.

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