Syracuse Basketball: Which 2023-24 opponents are in preseason top 25?

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

Even with the return of point guard Judah Mintz for his sophomore season, a huge development for Syracuse basketball, the Orange isn’t making the cut for super early preseason top-25 rankings as well as way-too-early mock fields of 68 for the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

All good. I like it when the ‘Cuse flies under the radar a bit (hi, 2002-03). When the 6-foot-3 Mintz revealed a few days ago that he would withdraw his name from the 2023 NBA Draft and come back to the Hill for the 2023-24 campaign, that set the Orange’s roster at 13 scholarship players, and it’s an athletic and versatile roster for sure.

That being said, two of the team’s top-three scorers from a stanza ago, senior center Jesse Edwards and senior shooting guard Joe Girard III, have transferred to West Virginia and Clemson, respectively.

Over the past two seasons, the ‘Cuse has sported a sub-par 33-32 overall record, and it has missed the Big Dance in both campaigns. New head coach Adrian Autry and his assistants have done a great job on the recruiting trail in recent months.

Autry has said that he wants to return Syracuse basketball to its “standards” as a program – that is, winning 20 or more games every year, competing for Atlantic Coast Conference titles and not having to sweat out Selection Sundays.

All of that sounds wonderful, and I believe Autry can get his team there – but it’s no surprise to me that the Orange, at present, isn’t getting preseason love from national pundits.

But what about Syracuse basketball opponents in 2023-24?

The ‘Cuse non-conference slate in the upcoming season is starting to come together, but this 11-game docket isn’t fully known. What’s more, we don’t know the exact details of the team’s 20-contest ACC calendar.

However, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello recently published his latest way-too-early top 25, following the passing of the 2023 NBA Draft early-entry withdrawal deadline. And from the looks of it, the Orange definitely could be competing against multiple preseason top-25 teams in 2023-24. I say bring on the top foes!

Let’s start with ACC squads in Borzello’s most recent preseason top 25. Duke is No. 2, North Carolina is No. 15 and Miami, which made it to the Final Four of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, is No.16.

SU Athletics has announced six non-conference encounters for the Orange at this juncture. Those include home games against New Hampshire on Monday, Nov. 6, and Niagara on Thursday, Dec. 21. The ‘Cuse will face off with Pac-12 Conference member Oregon on Sunday, Dec. 17, at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Syracuse basketball will have three affairs in the 2023 Maui Jim Maui Invitational, which will take place from November 20 to November 22 at the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii. This eight-team field consists of the Orange, Gonzaga, Kansas, Marquette, Purdue, Tennessee, UCLA and Chaminade.

In Borzello’s way-too-early top 25, Kansas is No. 1, Purdue is No. 3, Tennessee is No. 5, Gonzaga is No. 7 and Marquette is No. 10. Wow. I’ll just say this. If somehow, someway, the Orange won the 2023 Maui Jim Maui Invitational, that would put the college hoops world on notice about the ‘Cuse in 2023-24.

I could envision, in the non-conference, Syracuse basketball playing Colgate and Cornell, as the Orange often does, as well as long-time rival Georgetown.

The ‘Cuse is also expected to get a game in the inaugural ACC-SEC Challenge this coming season. Naturally, we don’t know the Orange’s opponent yet, but several Southeastern Conference teams are in ESPN’s preseason top 25.

They include No. 5 Tennessee, No. 14 Arkansas, No. 17 Texas A&M (hi, Buzz Williams), No. 23 Alabama and No. 24 Kentucky. Borzello’s five “next in line” also include two SEC groups, Mississippi State and Auburn.

I’m excited to learn the rest of the ‘Cuse non-conference schedule in 2023-24, as well as all the specifics regarding its ACC docket. Syracuse basketball appears to have a relatively challenging slate on the horizon in the upcoming campaign.

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