#6 Syracuse Orange: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

With all their key contributors returning except for Rick Jackson, the Syracuse Orange have the talent to compete for a National Championship.  With the program soon jumping ship to the ACC (don’t get me started how much I hate this), Jim Boeheim hopes to make one of his final seasons in the Big East a memorable one.

SYRACUSE ORANGE
Last Season: T-3rd, 12-6 in Big East, 27-8 overall
Predicted Big East Finish: 2nd

Projected Depth Chart
C: Fab Melo(So)/Baye Moussa Keita (So)
PF: Rakeen Christmas (Fr)/James Southerland (Jr)
SF: Kris Joseph (Sr)/C.J. Fair (So)/Mookie Jones (Jr)
G: Brandon Triche (Jr)/Michael Carter-Williams (Fr)/Trevor Cooney (Fr)
G: Scoop Jardine (Sr)/Dion Waiters (So)

Gone: PF-Rick Jackson, C-DaShonte Riley (transfer-Eastern Michigan)

2011-2012 Outlook:
‘Cuse has a ton of depth in the backcourt led by returning starters Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche.  The duo is fairly interchangeable; they both can run the point, shoot the three, and use their strong builds to get to the basket.

Dion Waiters struggled adapting to his role off the bench behind Triche and Jardine and even reportedly flirted with the idea of transferring after last season.  He decided to stay at ‘Cuse and will be the first guard off the bench as he capable of playing either backcourt position.  Versatile freshman Michael Carter-Williams and sharpshooter Trevor Cooney add even more talent and depth at guard but might find minutes hard to come by.  Mookie Jones has learned that the past couple of minutes as he has been unable to regularly crack the rotation despite being one of the team’s top three-point threats.

kris joseph syracuseKris Joseph was slated to replace what the Orange lost a year ago in Wesley Johnson.  However, Joseph was rather inconsistent and never truly emerged as the team’s go-to scorer.  That motivated him to return for his senior season rather than leaving early for the NBA Draft.  He is at his best when attacking the basket but did show some improvement with his shot last season.  His length and athleticism are also assets in Syracuse’s 2-3 zone.

Highly-touted freshman Rakeem Christmas will replace Jackson at power forward.  He is not the physical presence that Jackson was but makes his presence felt on the boards and with his ability to block or alter shots.

C.J. Fair and James Southerland will compete for minutes off the bench at forward.  I really like Fair and think he has tremendous potential.  He reminds me a bit of a young Corey Brewer due to his athleticism and explosiveness in the open floor.  Southerland is a face-up forward who lives on the perimeter.  They give Boeheim solid back-up options in the frontcourt.

In the middle, Fab Melo hopes to show strides after struggling through a fairly horrendous freshman season.  He often looked lost on the floor and was relegated to extremely limited playing time once conference season rolled around.  Melo looks like he is in better shape this year which should help increase his productivity.  If he can show steady improvement and stay out of foul trouble when he is on the floor, Melo will provide the ‘Cuse with an inside presence and anchor the middle of their zone.

Melo’s struggles last season led to more playing time for Baye Moussa Keita.  The Senegal native brought great energy to the floor and was a threat on the boards and as a shot blocker due to his length and athleticism.  He is very raw on the offensive end but does run the floor well when the Orange get out in transition.

This might be one Boeheim’s deepest teams in a while.  There is size inside, athletes on the wing, and experience in the backcourt.  They will always cause headaches for teams with their 2-3 zone and have numerous weapons on the offensive end to be legit Final Four contenders.

Player to Watch: Fab Melo
Melo is the x-factor for Syracuse this season.  If he can use his size and strength inside to become a true post presence, it will open things up for the rest of the team.  The Brazil native put together a pair of solid performances late in the season that displayed some of his potential and left people encouraged about his future.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/23 vs. Virginia Tech/George Mason (Pre-Season NIT)
11/25 vs. Stanford/Oklahoma State (Pre-Season NIT)
12/2 vs. Florida (Big East/SEC Challenge)
12/6 vs. Marshall
12/10 vs. George Washington
12/17 at N.C. State

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#7 Baylor Bears
#8 Pitt Panthers
#9 Vanderbilt Commodores
#10 Memphis Tigers
#11 Florida Gators
#12 Xavier Musketeers
#13 Louisville Cardinals
#14 Arizona Wildcats
#15 Wisconsin Badgers
#16 Alabama Crimson Tide
#17 Gonzaga Bulldogs
#18 Marquette Golden Eagles
#19 Texas A&M Aggies
#20 Michigan Wolverines
#21 New Mexico Lobos
#22 Temple Owls
#23 Cincinnati Bearcats
#24 Kansas Jayhawks
#25 UNLV Rebels
#26 Washington Huskies
#27 UCLA Bruins
#28 Butler Bulldogs
#29 Missouri Tigers
#30 Texas Longhorns
#31 Villanova Wildcats
#32 Michigan State Spartans
#33 Florida State Seminoles
#34 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#35 Harvard Crimson
#36 Illinois Fighting Illini
#37 Oregon Ducks
#38 Wichita State Shockers
#39 Cal Golden Bears
#40 Belmont Bruins
#41 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#42 Saint Mary’s Gaels
#43 Purdue Boilermakers
#44 BYU Cougars
#45 Kansas State Wildcats
#46 West Virginia Mountaineers
#47 Virginia Cavaliers
#48 George Mason Patriots
#49 Old Dominion Monarchs

#50 VCU Rams
#51 Kent State Golden Flashes
#52 Arkansas Razorbacks
#53 St. John’s Red Storm
#54 Northwestern Wildcats
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs

#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, 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.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

 

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