Stuff is about to get real, my friends, as Syracuse basketball takes its 3-0 record to Honolulu this coming week as the Orange competes in a loaded field at the 2023 Allstate Maui Invitational.
This annual event, recently ranked the No. 1 early season tournament of the 2023-24 campaign by CBS Sports, boasts a prestigious group of participants, led by numerous squads that are highly rated in the latest top-25 polls and bracketology forecasts for the 2024 NCAA Tournament.
While the ‘Cuse has never lost in the Maui Invitational, winning the tournament crown in 1990, 1998 and 2013 and sporting an overall 9-0 mark in this prestigious event, for that trend to continue, Syracuse basketball will have to run through a gauntlet of elite competition.
First up for the ‘Cuse is a juicy encounter against another Orange-clad school, Southeastern Conference member Tennessee. Syracuse basketball and the Volunteers will go toe to toe beginning at 2:30 pm EST on Monday, Nov. 20, with television coverage on ESPN2.
Coverage of this contest will also be available on fuboTV.
Syracuse basketball will have its hands full with No. 7 Tennessee in Hawaii.
The Volunteers have also begun the 2023-24 stanza at 3-0, with victories over Tennessee Tech and Wofford at home, along with a strong road win against Wisconsin. In the most recent Associated Press top-25 poll, Tennessee is No. 7, while the Volunteers check in at No. 8 in the most recent Coaches top-25 ballot.
When I wrote this article, the ‘Cuse was No. 115 nationwide in the latest KenPom ratings. Tennessee, meanwhile, is No. 8 overall, and that includes being No. 2 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Syracuse basketball, so far, hasn’t had much of an issue scoring, as the the Orange averages 83.7 points per game through its first three non-conference affairs. However, the ‘Cuse offense will be thoroughly tested by the Vols’ stingy defense that is allowing just 57.7 points per meeting.
What’s more, Syracuse basketball has proven so-so to date in 2023-24 on defense, allowing 74.7 points per game. That could be problematic, since Tennessee averages 80.7 points per encounter on offense.
All in all, this is going to be an extremely challenging game for the ‘Cuse, although sophomore point guard Judah Mintz has said he and his teammates are ready to go, and they’re not fazed by any upcoming foe.
In their previous six affairs, Syracuse basketball and Tennessee are tied 3-3. The ‘Cuse last defeated the Volunteers back in November of 1993, according to SU Athletics. Most recently, Tennessee squeaked by the Orange, 66-62, in January of 2002.
This year’s Allstate Maui Invitational takes place from November 20 to November 22 at the University of Hawaii’s SimpliFi Arena in Honolulu. After its collision with the Vols, Syracuse basketball will face either Purdue or Gonzaga.
In the Orange’s final game in Honolulu, the ‘Cuse will play one of Kansas, Chaminade, UCLA or Marquette. Brutal.
It will be interesting to see how a relatively young Syracuse basketball roster fares against such high-quality opponents. Win or lose, this should prove a great learning experience for Orange players and the team’s coaching staff. Of course, though, I hope that the ‘Cuse emerges triumphant in a couple of games in Hawaii.