Syracuse Last season: 23-14, lost in the Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournament
Last season: 23-14, lost in the Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournament
Coach: Jim Boeheim, 43rd season
Conference: Atlantic Coast
Who's gone: F Matthew Moyer transferred after his redshirt freshman year and graduate transfer G Geno Thorpe left the team after six games.
Who's back: G Tyus Battle, the team's leading scorer last season (19.2), decided to return for his junior year after testing his NBA chances. He'll be joined by sophomore F Oshae Brissett, who's coming off an impressive freshman season (14.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 38 minutes), senior G Frank Howard (14.4 points, 4.7 assists), sophomore F Marek Dolezaj (5.8 points, 4.8 rebounds), and C Paschal Chukwu (5.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 91 blocks). Also returning are: G Howard Washington, who's recovering from a torn ACL; F Bourama Sidibe, who had offseason surgery for tendinitis; and G/F Elijah Hughes, who had to sit last year after transferring from East Carolina.
Who's new: Boeheim welcomes a class that includes G Jalen Carey, F Robert Braswell, and Boeheim's youngest son, Buddy, a 6-foot-5 point guard who will wear No. 35, the same number his dad wore when he played for the Orange in the 1960s.
The Skinny: Last year Syracuse was picked in the preseason to finish 10th and pretty much lived up to the low expectations as injuries plagued a team that finished 8-10 in the ACC. But unlike the year before when Syracuse was the top seed in the NIT, meaning the Orange were the last team out of the NCAA Tournament, they managed to squeak in last March as the last team in and won three games to reach the Sweet 16, stunning Arizona State, TCU and Michigan State in low-scoring games before losing to Duke by just 4 points. This year's team is ranked 16th in the preseason poll, has the personnel to vie for a top spot in the ACC and, for a change, easily secure an NCAA Tournament bid.
Expectations: Las Vegas oddsmakers have Syracuse a long shot to win the NCAA Tournament, on par with Purdue and well behind ACC rival Duke and Kentucky, the top two favorites.