With everyone starting to get their Halloween costumes ready, that can only mean that basketball season is just around the corner. Syracuse basketball fans are starting to take a serious look at the schedule to see where the wins and losses are. With the amount of potential the team has, there are going to be a lot of wins.
But it's incredibly difficult to go undefeated. We are here to give you the five games that are most likely to make the Orange slip up.
In a deviation from the norm for Syracuse basketball, the team will actually play an early season game outside of New York State (the Maui Invitational). However, the team still plays a lot of games in the Carrier Dome early on. Usually, the games are cupcakes.
However, Syracuse invited its former Big East foe Villanova to the Dome just after Christmas. Villanova played the 'Cuse tough in both games last year. They even knocked off Syracuse in Philadelphia. Sharp-shooting sophomore Ryan Arcidiacono and the rest of the Wildcats are used to playing in the Dome. They won't be intimidated by the Loud House.
As a former conference rival, you can rest assured 'Nova will be ready for this game and come in expecting to win.
Boston College is another former Big East foe. It has been a bit longer since these two teams have played a conference game against each other, but the fanbases will be happy to rekindle the rivalry. As the new kid on the block in the ACC, every team will be looking to bully the 'Cuse and knock them off.
The Eagles are coming off a disappointing 16-17 season, but they were tough to beat at Conte Forum. BC was 12-6 at home, and with Syracuse likely to be highly ranked when they visit, the team will be jacked up to defend their turf against the newcomers.
To continue the trend that seems to be forming, Pittsburgh is another former Big East member. They tagged along with Syracuse and are playing their first season in the ACC as well, so this game will have a lot of bragging rights at stake. In fact, I would say the Panthers have been Syracuse's biggest rival over the past few years.
Not to take anything away from Georgetown, but every Syracuse/Pitt game is a slugfest, and Pittsburgh has owned the Orange of late. Syracuse hasn't won at the Petersen Events Center since 2003-04.
You better believe the Oakland Zoo will be going nuts trying to keep that streak alive. They want to say the 'Cuse hasn't won on their floor in 10 years. Jamie Dixon will have a tough team again, this one led by senior Talib Zanna. Syracuse will need their A game in this one.
Finally, we have a team that Syracuse didn't play in the Big East. After two straight road games against Duke and Maryland, the Orange wave will ride to Charlottesville. That is a brutal stretch to start wrapping up the season, and Syracuse could be worn out by the time this one rolls around.
And Virginia is no slouch. They were ranked 25th in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll. Senior Joe Harris is a preseason All-ACC player and was the second-leading vote-getter for preseason Player of the Year in the conference. After a long first season in the ACC, this game will not be a walk in the park.
So I may have misled you a bit. I advertised this as Syracuse's five toughest games, but I'm going to cover six games. Duke is an entirely different animal, so both Duke games will be Syracuse's toughest.
I don't need to tell you about how good Duke is. Jabari Parker looks like a stud, and Mike Krzyzewski can coach 'em up. The trip to Cameron Indoor is obviously going to be difficult, as the Cameron Crazies are always wild. Syracuse sold out the Carrier Dome clash on February 1. It is expected that there will be even more Orange fans there than were at last year's Georgetown game (one which Syracuse lost).
Duke was picked to win the ACC this year, and for good reason. Duke has been the standard against which all other teams measure themselves, and Syracuse will have to beat the Blue Devils if it wants to win the ACC. One thing is for sure: There will be a boatload of attention paid to the Syracuse/Duke games. Let's hope the Orange are ready for the bright lights.