SU to go 11-9 in ACC

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

It’s not where the Syracuse University men’s basketball team will finish in the ACC regular-season standings when all is said and done, but if head coach Jim Boeheim’s team will complete a full year.

Remember last season when SU won its opening ACC Tournament game before the event and season went kaput because of COVID-19, which now has hit the SU campus.

The Orange announced Sunday that Boeheim, who turns 76 today, has tested positive for COVID-19, and all SU activities are on pause for the next two weeks, jeopardizing the team’s opener Nov. 27 vs. Bryant.

With a more experienced roster at Boeheim’s disposal, the Orange don’t want to see a slew of games — nonconference or ACC — go bye-bye.

SU is picked to finish sixth in the regular season among the league’s 15 schools, behind No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 North Carolina and No. 5 Louisville, according to the preseason media poll.

Let’s take a closer look at SU’s league schedule:

n Three of the first four games are on the road, but the first three opponents — Boston College, Notre Dame (at the Carrier Dome) and Wake Forest — are picked to be lower second-division teams.

n If we examine SU’s league slate beginning Jan. 2 at North Carolina and ending against the same Tar Heels at the Dome in early March, that’s 17 of 20 league games. SU has four difficult road games at North Carolina, Virginia, Louisville and Duke, and four winnable games away from home against schools (Pittsburgh, Clemson, North Carolina State and Georgia Tech) picked beneath the Orange.

n Using the same 17-game model, SU has four top-notch foes invading the Dome, including Florida St., Miami, Louisville and UNC, and five opponents (Clemson, Virginia Tech, North Carolina St., Pitt and BC) in which it should be favored.

n Prediction: SU will go 11-9 in the ACC, finishing sixth.

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;

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 halted season;

n 2020-21 — 6th/??/??

n Note: Top Secret Fyles will return Dec. 1.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

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