2018 Syracuse Orange Basketball Predictions with Odds and Expert Picks
Jim Boeheim has been coaching at Syracuse since 1976 - an incredible run that has included a national title and five Final Four appearances. This was supposed to be the first year of the post-Boeheim era, but a new recruit named Buddy Boeheim, who just happens to be his son, convinced him to stick around for a while. For most of his time at Syracuse, Boeheim has run the same 2-3 zone and recruited the same type of long and athletic freak. And it just keeps working. Not always consistently, but when it matters most. Like last year, when the team barely snuck into the tournament, had to win in Dayton to even make the main field, and then upset No. 3 Michigan State to make the Sweet 16. Now he has an experienced, athletic and big team to run his system again, and it feels like a good bet that he will find a way to surprise us at some point this year. He always does.
Syracuse Orange Additions/Losses
Boeheim had only seven scholarship players last year, and luckily he has brought most of them back this year. Grad transfer Geno Thorpe left the team after just six games last year, so the fact that he is gone means little. And beyond that all that left are two walk-ons who graduated and a transfer who barely played. In short, everyone who matters is back and ready for more.
The recruiting class features two guys who will play this year. Four-star combo guard Jalen Carey needs to be a better shooter, but he is athletic and talented and should play early. Star guard Tyus Battle played an insane 39 minutes a game last year, so giving him some relief would be a very good thing. And Buddy Boeheim was added for more than just his last name. He's a guard who can shoot the lights out, and he will see playing time out of the gate.
There is another new face, as Elijah Hughes is ready to play after sitting out after a transfer from ECU. He's another big guard who can score, and he should fit in very well.
Syracuse Orange Outlook
The team finally has a little depth after a comically-short bench last year. And they have some real talent in the starting five. Tyus Battle is a scoring machine on the point, and he obviously doesn't back down in the face of a lot of pressure. He is truly elite. And his backcourt partner, Franklin Howard, is a senior who led the team in assists while finishing third in points. It's a very nice duo. Oshae Brissett averaged just short of 15 points and nine boards as a freshman forward and has serious upside. Another sophomore forward, Marek Dolezaj, was slow to get rolling but was excellent in the tournament. And senior center Paschal Chukwu is a 7-foot-2 lanky wall of an inside presence. It's a good group well suited to what they are asked to do. And the experienced man off the bench is Bourama Sidibe, a 6-foot-10 center who is a nice change of pace, though he is short on stamina. It's not the deepest group, but it is a solid one, and the additions fit well.
The team was an elite defense last year, and all the pieces that made that work are back, so it is a good bet that they will be statistically near the top on that end of the court again. But it is the other end of the court that is the question. They really struggled to score last year, and though they have a little more scoring depth they still aren't going to blow teams away by outscoring them. The starters need to be improved because even though he has a better bench he isn't likely to use it heavily - he rarely does. Brissett and Dolezaj have upside, but it's still no certainty that they will be great, and they need to be to be a real contender.
Syracuse Orange Schedule
The season starts out their season with the 2K Classic, a tournament that will see them play UConn and either Iowa or Oregon. Those are solid tests, with Oregon being the biggest challenge. They play at Ohio State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, but that should be a manageable contest. And the rest of the nonconference schedule is weak. The team should head into the ACC season with a good record to build from.
The ACC schedule is always tough, and this is no exception. The worst part comes in later February when, in four days, they play Duke then travel to North Carolina.
Syracuse Orange Futures Odds
Syracuse, ranked 16th in the AP poll, is one of four teams tied for 13th to win the national title at Bovada , so oddsmakers like them.
Syracuse Orange Predictions
This is a classic Boeheim team, led by a very good player in Battle, and a guy in Brissett who has major upside. They aren't going to win the ACC, but they should be better than last year, and they will be a higher seed, and therefore more dangerous in March. They aren't a team to sleep on.
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