#6 Syracuse Orange: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season.  We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

It still feels wrong to call the Syracuse Orange members of the ACC but I guess I’ll get over it at some point.  ‘Cuse is loaded with talent up-front but with their starting backcourt moving on, there are holes to fill at guard.

SYRACUSE ORANGE
Last Season: T-5th, 11-7 in Big East, 30-10 overall
Predicted ACC Finish: 2nd

Projected Depth Chart
C: DaJuan Coleman (So)/Baye Moussa Keita (Sr)
PF: Rakeen Christmas (Jr)/Tyler Roberson (Fr)
SF: C.J. Fair (Sr)/Jerami Grant (So)/B.J. Johnson (Fr)
SG: Trevor Cooney (So)/Michael Gbinjie (So)/Ron Patterson (Fr)
PG: Tyler Ennis (Fr)

Gone: PG-Michael Carter-Williams, SG-Brandon Triche, F-James Southerland

2013-2014 Outlook:
Leading the charge for Jim Boeheim is senior forward C.J. Fair who led the Orange in scoring last season.  Fair is a versatile threat on offense as he has a smooth stroke from the perimeter, can power dribble to the bucket, and is explosive at the rim.  His length and athleticism also make him the perfect fit for the bottom of Syracuse’s patented 2-3 zone.

Likely to join Fair in the starting frontcourt is Rakeem Christmas and DaJuan Coleman.  Christmas has failed to live up to the lofty expectations that surrounded him coming out of high school.  He is limited with his offensive game but has shown the ability to be a shot blocker/rebounder/defensive asset.

Coleman had a disappointing freshman campaign that was hampered by a meniscus injury.  He brings more physicality to the paint and gives Cuse a decent low post scoring option which they really lacked last season.  Improving his body and conditioning in the off-season should make him a more vital piece for Syracuse.

Jerami Grant replaces James Southerland as the team’s sixth man and like Southerland did last year, should see starter minutes.  Like Fair and Christmas, his length and athleticism are ideal for the bottom wing of a 2-3 zone.  Baye Moussa Keita brings experience off the bench behind Coleman in the middle and is an energy player who has been a serviceable reserve since his freshman season.

Even with all the talent returning up-front, Boeheim brings in three talented freshmen who will likely have to wait their turn before cracking the rotation.  Power forward Tyler Roberson was a top 40 recruit in the 2013 class while small forward B.J. Johnson finished in the top 100.  With those guys in the mix, ‘Cuse has one of the deepest frontcourts in the nation and will be able to mix and match numerous different rotations.  6-10 freshman Chinoso Obokoh has decided to use a redshirt for this season since he wouldn’t sniff the floor and is still raw in his all-around game.

The biggest question mark is how Boeheim replaces his starting backcourt of Michael-Carter Williams and Brandon Triche.  A lot rests on the shoulders of Tyler Ennis who was one of the top point guard recruits in the country.  Syracuse needs him to be a true floor general from day one since he is the only true point guard on the roster.  He can score the ball but is also a terrific creator and playmaker.

The off guard position comes down to Trevor Cooney or Duke transfer Michael Gbinije.  Cooney was the only reserve guard last season and is known as a three-point shooter but due to a lack of depth, will likely be forced to play the point for brief stints.  Gbinije barely saw the floor during his freshman year with the Blue Devils but is a former top 30 recruit who is another lengthy, versatile wing for Boeheim to utilize.  Freshman Ron Patterson may factor into the equation as well and could see the occasional turn at point guard as well.

This might be the deepest team Jim Boeheim has had at Syracuse in terms of the length, athleticism, and versatility at forward which, as every college basketball fan should know, is what helps makes his 2-3 zone such a force.  The real key is how quickly Ennis takes over at the point and who emerges as shooting guard.  As we learned last season with their huge March turnaround and trip to the Final Four, you can never count out the Syracuse Orange and that will once again be the case as they move to the ACC.

Player to Watch: C.J. Fair
The smooth lefty might be one of the more “under the radar” players heading into this season.  I’ve been a huge fan of his since his freshman year and not just because he rocks a headband.  He does a little bit of everything on the floor but it will be his leadership that needs to shine through on this young Syracuse team.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/25 vs. Minnesota (Maui Invitational)
11/26 vs. California/Arkansas (Maui Invitational)
11/25 vs. Gonzaga/Dayton/Baylor/Chaminade (Maui Invitational)
12/3 vs. Indiana (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/15 at St. John’s
12/28 vs. Villanova

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#9 Oklahoma State
#10 Ohio State
#11 North Carolina
#12 Michigan
#13 Marquette
#14 Memphis
#15 Notre Dame
#16 Georgetown
#17 Gonzaga
#18 Creighton
#19 Wisconsin
#20 Virginia
#21 Wichita State
#22 VCU
#23 New Mexico
#24 UConn
#25 Indiana
#26 Colorado
#27 Tennessee
#28 Baylor
#29 St. John’s
#30 Harvard
#31 UCLA
#32 Iowa
#33 Boise State
#34 Villanova
#35 Oregon
#36 St. Louis
#37 La Salle
#38 San Diego State
#39 Stanford
#40 Arizona State
#41 BYU
#42 Pitt
#43 California
#44 Iowa State
#45 Providence
#46 Cincinnati
#47 UNLV
#48 Purdue
#49 LSU
#50 Illinois
#51 Xavier
#52 Boston College
#53 Ole Miss
#54 Missouri
#55 Washington
#56 Saint Mary’s
#57 Maryland
#58 Butler
#59 Minnesota
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#61 Akron
#62 Temple
#63 Alabama
#64 Florida State
#65 Arkansas
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#68 Davidson
#69 Dayton
#70 Miami FL
#71 SMU
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#74 UMass
#75 Northwestern
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#78 Oklahoma
#79 Richmond
#80 Manhattan
#81 Belmont
#82 Texas
#83 Houston
#84 Washington State
#85 Iona
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#88 Towson
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#91 Rutgers
#92 Drexel
#93 USC
#94 Charleston
#95 Seton Hall
#96 Vanderbilt
#97 George Mason
#98 Clemson
#99 Penn State
#100 Nebraska
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#104 DePaul
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#107 TCU
#108 Virginia Tech
#109 Georgia
#110 Utah
#111 Auburn

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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