From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
After an unexpected run to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 round last season, the Syracuse University men’s basketball team appears to have more weapons — and potentially even dynamic — as its 2021-22 season tips off tonight.
The Orange, which posted a 9-7 record for eighth place in the ACC regular season that had some COVID-19 interruptions at times, finished 18-10 overall in 2020-21 after its NCAA Sweet 16 loss to Houston.
SU, which plays host to Lafayette at 7 tonight at the Carrier Dome to open the season, may have a more well-rounded roster this season that may in turn lead to an ACC higher finish and at least a final 16 round berth again in March.
The media picked SU to finish seventh in the 15-team league preseason poll, but I think the Orange can go 13-7 and place fifth in ACC, and end the 31-game regular season with a 20-11 overall record.
Cole Swider and Jimmy Boeheim, each transfer students who come over from Villanova and Cornell, respectively, give SU an excellent shooting presence along the front court. Swider has a chance to be the program’s best shooting forward in almost two decades.
The back court looks like to be in good shape with veterans Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard III along with Marquette transfer Symir Torrence.
Jesse Edwards, a 6-foot-11 junior, should be the lynch pin in the Orange’s vaunted 2-3 zone defense, and he will be counted on to provide key stops. Senior Bourama Sidibe will be available after the first of the new calendar year.
Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Louisville are picked to finish ahead of SU in the ACC media preseason poll.
The Orange schedule looks favorable with only three instances of back-to-back road games. Four of these six road games are against schools that are picked to be at the bottom of the league’s preseason poll.
n Since the 2015-16 season, here are SU’s annual conference prediction, actual standing, overall record and NCAA Tournament advancement where applicable:
n 2015-16 — 9th/9th/23-14/made NCAA Final Four as a 10th seed;
n 2016-17 — 5th/7th (tie)/19-15/NIT;
n 2017-18 — 10th/10th (tie)/23-14/made NCAA Sweet 16 as an 11th seed;
n 2018-19 — 4th/6th (tie)/20-14/made NCAA first round as an 8th seed;
n 2019-20 — 8th/6th (tie)/18-14/COVID ended year;
n 2020-21 — 6th/8th/18-10/ made NCAA Sweet 16 as an 11th seed;
n 2021-22 — 7th/??/??
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org