College Basketball Preseason Top 25: #10 Syracuse

C.J. Fair and the Orange will be gunning for another 30 wins in 2014. (USA TODAY Sports)

C.J. Fair and the Orange will be gunning for another 30 wins in 2014. (USA TODAY Sports)

10. Syracuse Orange

Let us first take a moment to mourn the loss of the old Big East. Ahhh. I told myself I wasn’t going to cry.

Now that that’s done, we can talk about how Syracuse will fare in its first season in That League Down South. (Which is how we may refer to that team-stealing cancer of a league from now on). The ‘Cuse lose Brandon Triche (13.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.6 apg), Michael Carter-Williams (11.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 7.3 apg, 2.8 spg) and James Southerland (13.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) from last year’s Final Four squad. Carter-Williams’ stat line shows you how much he will be missed, and Triche and Southerland were major program players as well. But head coach Jim Boeheim is looking forward to this year, and plenty of returning as well as incoming talent.

6-8 forward C.J. Fair (14.5 ppg, 7 rpg) should take the next step in his development and become a go-to-guy on this squad, and should vie for all-conference honors. He’s going to be the clear-cut alpha dog on this team until someone else steps up. Incoming freshman Tyler Ennis was one of the most highly-regarded point guards in the nation and should make an immediate impact as a starter.

Bruising sophomore forward DaJuan Coleman (who incredibly, despite looking and playing like Syracuse legend Derrick Coleman–is not related to him) could develop into a star this year. At 6-9, 275, he’s got the size and skill to be productive on both ends of the floor. Junior forward Rakeem Christmas gives the Orange even more depth on the inside, and 6-10 Baye Moussa Keita is a rebounding and shot blocking force.

BOTTOM LINE: There’s no shortage of size on this Syracuse roster, with nine players coming in at 6-7 or taller. The Orange have a ton of depth on the interior, and that will be a major strength for this team as it continues to haunt opponents with that suffocating zone defense. Boeheim has done a brilliant job of recruiting to the zone over the years, and it’s never been more evident than in the last five years, when the Orange have averaged 30 wins per season. If point guard Tyler Ennis lives up to the hype and C.J. Fair becomes the player he is expected to be, another 30 wins won’t be out of the question.

Click here to see our Entire Top 25.


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