Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bring on the ACC

Syracuse officially plays its first ACC game on January 4, 2004 when it takes on former Big East brethren University of Miami. 

Syracuse has played every ACC school at least one time in its history, but overall those teams are unfamiliar landscape for the Orange.  Of the 2,716 basketball games Syracuse has played to date, only 38 are against ACC teams formerly not part of the Big East.

The most familiar team for Syracuse would be the Maryland Terrapins, who ironically are leaving the ACC after this season to join the Big 10.  Syracuse has struggled the most with the Terrapins in the past, having played seven games and going 2-5 in those games.  They were 0-5 versus Lefty Driesell.  It will be unfortunate for Syracuse that Maryland leaves, as I believe their presence would have helped the Orange continue to recruit in the Maryland/D.C. area.

The least familiar school for Syracuse is Wake Forest, whom the Orange has faced only once. Syracuse played the Demon Deacons in 2001, winning the game and holding the 1-0 edge.  Syracuse has met Clemson only twice, losing both of those games.

Syracuse is 2-2 against ACC powerhouse Duke, including going 1-1 against Coach K.  They are 3-4 against North Carolina, 3-1 against Virginia, 2-2 against Georgia Tech, 3-1 against Florida State and 4-1 against North Carolina State.

Overall, Syracuse has done okay against those traditional ACC teams going 19-19 combined overall.  Nothing great, but nothing terrible. Many of those games were against ACC teams in the NCAA tournament.

The history for Syracuse versus the ACC is not a long one.  The majority of the games have occurred since 1980, with most of the action prior to then coming in the NCAA tournament and other seasonal tournaments.  College basketball was mostly regional for the first eighty years, and as a result eastern schools tended to meet other conferences only during those tournaments.

The first ACC team Syracuse ever played was Frank McGuire’s North Carolina Tar Heels in 1957.  Syracuse was in its first NCAA tournament ever, and they lost to the Tar Heels 67-58 in the Elite Eight.  Syracuse would later upset North Carolina in 1975, on its way to the Orangemen’s first Final Four.

The next time Syracuse would play an ACC team was in 1960 versus Press Maravich’s Clemson Tigers.  This was during the lowest point of Syracuse’s program in terms of winning, and the Orangemen lost 78-67.

They would face Duke in 1966 in the NCAA tournament.  Syracuse had All American Dave Bing leading the way, but Duke proved too much as the Orangemen lost 91-81.

The Orangemen’s first win against an ACC team occurred December 28th, 1971, when  Mike Lee scored 23 points leading the Orangemen to a 74-72 win over the Duke Blue Devils.

The ‘new’ ACC  brings many familiar teams to the Orangemen.  Former Big East foes Virginia Tech,  Miami, and Boston College have been in the ACC for nearly a decade now.  Syracuse is very familiar with Boston College with a 40-23 all-time series against them.  Syracuse leads the Hurricanes 14-5, and despite the fact that Syracuse and the Hokies were in the Big East together, they have only met six times with the Orange leading 4-2.

Pitt and Notre Dame joined the Big East this year. Syracuse leads the Panthers 63-39 all-time, though in recent history the series favors Pitt.  Syracuse holds a 25-19 advantage over the Fighting Irish.

The Orangemen have a familiar foe in Villanova this upcoming week; that will be the last non-conference game of the season.   Then it will be time for the Orange to make new memories in its new home, the ACC.

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