SU Basketball Preview: Schedule Analysis breaks down Syracuse basketball's 2014-15 schedule.

The #24 ranked Syracuse Orange will go into it’s second year in the ACC with about as low of expectations as an avid fan could remember. But just because the team isn’t as stacked as in years past doesn't mean it will make their schedule any easier.

For the second straight season the Orange will open up it’s exhibition game schedule with a matchup against Canadian powerhouse Carleton on November 2nd. Syracuse narrowly defeated the Ravens 69-65 last year in Ontario, which also marked a homecoming for freshman Tyler Ennis who hails from our neighbors to the North.

Syracuse’ first formidable opponent will come when they square off against California as part of the 2K Classic on November 20th at Madison Square Garden. The Bears were one win away from the NIT semi-finals last season before a heartbreaking 67-65 loss to SMU ended their season. The winner of that matchup will play the winner of Iowa/Texas the following night in the 2K Classic final.

In a replay of their 2013 Final Four semi-final matchup the Orange will go up against by far it’s toughest non-conference opponent in the Michigan Wolverines as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on December 2nd in Ann Arbor. Michigan, who lost 75-72 to Kentucky in last year’s Elite 8, has a new-look squad that’s lost four starters from last seasons club including Big Ten Player of the Year Nik Stauskas.

The Orange could play as many as three games in NBA arena’s in 2014-15 including a Christmas week matchup with former Big East foe Villanova on December 20th at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wildcats, who were unanimously chosen to win the Big East Conference in the Preseason Coaches poll, lost 77-65 to eventual national champion Uconn last year in the 3rd round of the NCAA Tournament.

Syracuse will open up it’s second year of ACC play with road matchups against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech during the first week of 2015. Both teams finished in the bottom of the ACC last year, but the Yellow Jackets stunned the Orange with a late season 67-62 win on March 4th right in the middle of Syracuse’ demise.

The Orange will travel to Chapel Hill, NC on January 26th for a primetime ESPN matchup against the Tar Heels. NC is currently ranked 6th in the earliest preseason rankings a few spots behind fellow ACC rival Duke(2). The Tar Heels are led by the ACC’s Most Improved Player point guard Marcus Paige who averaged 18 points last season.

Arguably the Orange’s toughest stretch of the season will come when it kicks off a two game road trip against Pittsburgh and Boston College on February 7th and 11th. It’s next three home games include match ups with Duke and Louisville, both games scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN in mid February. Duke is currently ranked #2 in the nation and as it seems like the case every year will rely on another freshman, this time 2014 McDonald’s All-American Jahlil Okafor. The Orange will face another top-ten opponent in Louisville later in the week on February 18th.

Syracuse will wind down it’s ACC schedule with a mini two game road trip to South Bend and Durham for match ups against Notre Dame and Duke. The Duke game will be as hostile as always in Cameron Indoor Stadium, especially late in the ACC schedule. That game will also be broadcast on ESPN on February 28th with no time yet set.

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