Syracuse basketball can be good next season but having 'Cuse in top 10 is a bit much

Syracuse basketball has work to do to fill out its 2024-25 roster. SU can be good next season but not sure about top-10 good.
Syracuse basketball has work to do to fill out its 2024-25 roster. SU can be good next season but not sure about top-10 good. / Greg Fiume/GettyImages

I'll start out this column with two acknowledgments: number one, I'm a total homer when it comes to Syracuse basketball, given I'm a fiercely proud SU alum, and number two, preseason top-25 rankings published in the spring for the following campaign that will begin in November mean next to nothing.

In any event, when Michael DeCourcy of The Sporting News on April 8 unveiled his way-too-early top 25 for the 2024-25 season and installed the Orange at No. 10 around the country, two things came to mind.

Hey, that's cool. And, really?

All kidding aside, to be fair, DeCourcy's super early top 25 came out a few days before news officially broke that 'Cuse sophomore point guard Judah Mintz would head to the 2024 NBA Draft, so let's not get too far ahead of ourselves in pumping up our beloved Orange.

Mintz led the Orange in scoring this past term, at nearly 19 points per contest, which was No. 2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He was named to the All-ACC second team. So while Mintz does have his strengths and weaknesses, I think it's a little naive to assume the 'Cuse will be better off without him.

At the same time, we have to examine the Orange's ultimate 2024-25 roster as a whole, as well as the squad's schedule for the next stanza, before making any sort of grand proclamations one way or another.

But this does bring up an interesting - albeit early - discussion point. Just how good can the 'Cuse be in 2024-25?

Syracuse basketball fans would love to see the Orange prove a top-25 team next season.

If I may, a little context. In 2023-24, the 'Cuse went 20-12 overall. First-year head coach Adrian Autry guided the program to 20 regular-season victories for the first time in a decade, but the Orange also missed the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year.

Syracuse basketball had to contend with a brutal non-conference slate and still went 9-2 in that portion of the 2023-24 docket. The roster was primarily made up of sophomores. Two key players suffered unfortunate injuries. One veteran was dismissed from the program in early February.

To me, it was a fairly "successful" 2023-24 stanza. But we all want the 'Cuse to get back to the Big Dance as soon as possible (i.e., in the next term).

This off-season, at least six players from the 2023-24 roster have hit the portal. Mintz is gone. The Orange has secured a commitment from a four-star transfer center. Two other four-star transfers are visiting the Hill this weekend.

At the high school level, Syracuse basketball brings in a five-star power forward and a four-star shooting guard. Scholarships are available, and the 'Cuse staff will likely bring several more players on board for 2024-25, whether through the portal or at the high school level.

This is pure speculation, but I don't think the team's non-conference schedule will prove as challenging in 2024-25 as it did this past season. In November, Syracuse basketball will compete at the 2024 Legends Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y., with the other participants being Texas, Texas Tech and Saint Joseph's.

As announced by the ACC in late February, the Orange's 20-game league calendar is as follows:
Home/Away: Boston College, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame
Home Only: Duke, Georgia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia and Wake Forest
Away Only: California, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, SMU, Stanford and Virginia Tech

On paper, the 'Cuse ACC docket seems manageable. The Orange's non-conference slate isn't fully known, but to reiterate, I don't believe it will be as difficult as a season ago.

Other recently published way-too-early top-25 rankings for 2024-25 don't include Syracuse basketball, at least as far as I'm aware. In recent days, Andy Katz released his way-too-early "Power 36" on and had the 'Cuse in the "under consideration" category.

To me, it's a tad silly to give serious consideration to Syracuse basketball for the preseason top 25 when there is a lot of work left to do for its 2024-25 roster. That being said, if and when the Orange adds a few more talented commits, I could envision the 'Cuse contending for the top 25 during the upcoming season when all is said and done.

But the top 10? I'm not so sure about that.

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