Syracuse Basketball: 6 Must-Win Games on Syracuse's 2012-13 Schedule
Coming off Syracuse's best regular season in school history—finishing 30-1 in the 2011-2012 regular season—the Orange have set the bar high. Although the team has lost four big contributors from last year's team, expectations for next year are still very high for Jim Boeheim's squad.
Brandon Triche, James Southerland, C.J. Fair and Baye Keita will be expected to do many of the same things they did for last year's team, while the team will expect significant contributions from Rakeem Christmas, Michael Carter-Williams, Trevor Cooney, Dejuan Coleman and Jerami Grant.
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The 2012-2013 season will be the last time these bitter rivals will play as conference foes. With Syracuse moving to the ACC, it is possible that this rivalry will be in its final year.
Obviously, the Orange want to leave the Big East in style by defeating their arch rival.
Although Georgetown lost their top three scorers from the 2011-2012 season, the Hoyas have many quality players returning to school. Syracuse will likely be favored in this matchup, and it will be crucial for them to sweep the season series.
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This also may be the last time that the rivalry between the Villanova Wildcats and Syracuse Orange is played. The Wildcats will struggle next season, but they will still be a formidable opponent. The Orange must not look past inferior opponents such as the Wildcats, or it will cost them.
The Wildcats lost Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek when they opted to declare for the draft, which hurt the Wildcats hopes at a Big East championship for next season. However, Villanova brought in a pair of talented freshman from the Philadelphia area in Daniel Ochefu and Ryan Arcidiacono.
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Syracuse will face the Temple Owls in December at Madison Square Garden.
Temple is a very successful mid-major basketball school who is making their move back to the Big East for the 2013-2014 season. The Orange cannot take non-conference games lightly, or it will cost them come selection Sunday.
Although the Orange will be heavy favorites, the Owls' are a formidable opponent who will give the Orange their money's worth.
St. John's Red Storm
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St. John's relied heavily on freshman during last year's campaign, and they struggled. However, expect St. John's to be much improved, as all of those freshman now have one year under their belt. In addition, Steve Lavin is returning from a long hiatus due to his struggles with cancer.
Although the departure of Moe Harkless is a big blow, St. John's will still be a highly competitive team next season that will challenge the Orange.
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The Orange will take on Arkansas in the annual Big East-SEC challenge. The Orange will be heavily favored, but Arkansas returns much of its team from last year and will be a quality opponent for Syracuse.
Although it will be easy for the team to look past the Razorbacks, they must be completely focused in order to come away with a win.
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The Louisville Cardinals are expected to be a top five team next season, so it will be very important that the Orange show that they can hang with the best teams in the country. The teams will face each other twice—in a home and home series next season.
It will be crucial that the Orange take at least one of two from the Cardinals to prove to the selection committee and the nation that the Orange are national championship contenders.