Next year’s Syracuse men’s basketball team now knows the details of their first marquee matchup of the season. The Orange will take on the Kansas Jayhawks in early December to conclude the third annual Hoophall Miami Invitational.
Syracuse leads the all-time series 3-2, but Kansas is a perennial national title contender and one of the most prestigious programs in college basketball history. The Jayhawks haven’t missed the NCAA tournament since 1989, claiming either a one or two seed in the big dance every year since 2000.
The two teams ended last season on opposite paths. The Syracuse Orange lost to Ole Miss in the second round of the NIT after barely missing the NCAA tournament. The Jayhawks meanwhile, advanced to the Elite Eight as a one seed where they were eliminated by the Oregon Ducks
December 2nd will be the first meeting between the teams since the 2008-2009 season, when the Orange scored an overtime victory against the Jayhawks. The Orange were led by former fan-favorites Johnny Flynn and Eric Devendorf in that 89-81 win. Before that the teams last met in Syracuse’s 2003 National Championship victory led by Orange legend Carmelo Anthony.
The team has a chance to get some experience in the days leading up to their duel with Kansas. Before traveling to American Airlines Arena to play the Jayhawks, Syracuse will play Oakland, Toledo, and Texas Southern at the Carrier Dome, where the Orange were 17-4 last season.
These games give Jim Boeheim and Orange Nation an opportunity to see who will step up after the departure of team leaders Andrew White III, John Gillon, and most recently, sophomore Tyler Lydon. The obvious choice to lead the team offensively is shooting guard Tyus Battle, who averaged over 30 minutes a game in his freshman campaign. On defense, the Orange look for 7’2” center Pascal Chukwu to patrol the paint after missing most of last season with an eye injury.
Come November, Kansas will miss two of the NCAA’s most talented players from last season. Associated Press Player of the Year Frank Mason III and Big 12 Freshman of the year Josh Jackson are both expected to enter the NBA draft, with Jackson as a projected lottery pick. The backcourt duo combined for more than 35 points per game last year.
Following the Kansas game, Syracuse travels to Madison Square Garden for their 94th meeting against the UConn Huskies, a former Big East foe. The December 5th matchup is a part of the Jimmy V Classic, honoring the late Jim Valvano.