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2020-21 Syracuse men's basketball preview

Syracuse Orange

2019-20 record: 18-14, 10-10 in the ACC

Head coach: Jim Boeheim

Tenure at Syracuse: 45th year

Career coaching record: 964-399

Home court: Carrier Dome

Starters: G Joseph Girard III, G Buddy Boeheim, F Alan Griffin, F Marek Dolezaj, C Bourama Sidibe

Bench: F Kadary Richmond, F Chaz Owens, F Woody Newton, G Chris Lavalle, F Quincy Guerrier, F Nick Giancola, G Shane Feldman, C Jesse Edwards, G Arthur Cordes, F Robert Braswell, G Jaylen Bartley, C Frank Anselem, C John Bol Ajak 

Overview: This season, Syracuse lost 4 players to transfers and the NBA draft—most notably, Elijah Hughes. Hughes was the most productive player on the team last season, averaging 19 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals. However, the Orange return 4 starters from last year led by sharp shooter Buddy Boeheim, who will look to step up offensively in lieu of the hole left by Hughes.

In addition, the transfer from Illinois, Alan Griffin, is expected to provide additional relief on offense with his experience in the Big Ten and his shooting ability. Syracuse needs to at least retain their 21st-ranked offensive efficiency in the country from last season, despite Hughes leaving for the NBA draft.

On the defensive side, Syracuse is infamously known for their tough 2-3 zone, but the Orange were ranked 116th in the country last year in terms of their defensive efficiency, giving up just shy of one point per possession and making it the second-worst defensive season for head coach Jim Boeheim. While the Orange need to keep up with their offensive rating from last season, they also need to step up defensively. This new team has to do a better job rotating in their 2-3 zone to limit outside shooters and to secure the boards. Their outlook on the defensive end this season will likely determine the success of the year.

Team ceiling: A March Madness run for the Syracuse Orange could be a real possibility, as Jim Boeheim looks for his seventh trip to the Final Four, but defense certainly needs to improve for that to happen. 

Team floor: Syracuse currently projects as a fringe NCAA tournament team. Its ability to execute on defense and retain their offensive efficiency from last season will play a huge role in how far the Orange will go this year. A first round exit at the NCAA Tournament is the floor for this upcoming season.

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