Syracuse Basketball: Orange Ranked 9th in Preseason USA Today Poll

Jay SchaefferContributor IIIOctober 17, 2012

Mar 24, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Brandon Triche (20) shoots over Ohio State Buckeyes guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr. (32) in the first half of the finals in the east region of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at TD Garden.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

The Syracuse Orange are ranked ninth in the USA Today preseason coaches' poll. The Orange are also picked to finish second in the very competitive Big East conference by USA Today.

Here is the USA Today preseason top 10:

1. Indiana

2. Louisville

3. Kentucky

4. Ohio State

5. Michigan

6. North Carolina State

7. Kansas

8. Duke

9. Syracuse

10. Florida

The Orange beat two of the teams ranked above them in the polls last season, in North Carolina State and Louisville. However, a lot has changed for the Orange this season, and this poll indicates that college basketball coaches don't know what to expect from the young Syracuse team. 

The Orange welcome three very talented freshman in Dajuan Coleman, Jerami Grant and red-shirt freshman Trevor Cooney, who should help the Orange replace Fab Melo, Kris Joseph, Dion Waiters, and Scoop Jardine. In addition, Michael Carter-Williams has the potential to be a breakout star in his sophomore season. 

If these three freshman can contribute regularly and Carter-Williams converts his talent into production, Syracuse should be a national championship contender. However, repeating as Big East champions will be tough this season because of No. 2-ranked Louisville.

The key to Syracuse's season will be its two games against Louisville. The Big East championship will likely come down to either Syracuse or Louisville, so if the Orange can either split or sweep the Cardinals this year they could repeat as conference champions.