Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WAER works hard to bring you award-winning sports coverage in Central New York. With a Sports staff of more than 20 people, you get comprehensive coverage of Syracuse University Football, Men's Basketball, and Men's Lacrosse. The best play by play on the air combined with regular morning and afternoon sports updates make WAER the source for sports in Central New York. See the legacy video here. See what it's like being in WAER Sports00000176-de2c-dce8-adff-feeff0ff000000000176-de2c-dce8-adff-feeff0ff0003

Syracuse Tips Off Against #11 Virginia To Start 2019-20 Season

Just one year ago, Syracuse entered the season ripe with expectations. The Orange returned its entire starting five from 2017-18 plus transfer Elijah Hughes along with freshmen Jalen Carey and Buddy Boeheim. All of this set up one of the deepest rosters in recent memory. The Orange were ranked in the preseason AP and expected to make a significant tournament run.

For Virginia, last offseason was full of mockery. In 2017-18, the Cavaliers became the first 1-seed in March Madness history to lose to the 16-seed (UMBC). Virginia basketball had become a symbol of parody rather than prestige.

The 2018-19 season provided hope for Syracuse fans. After reaching the Sweet 16 on what many considered to be a fluke, there was a feeling that 2018-19 would be the year the Orange contended for a title once again. Then the season tipped-off.

Syracuse fell short, getting knocked out in the first round of the tournament by Baylor. Although the season provided moments like the Duke win and Tyus’ shot over Georgetown, most fans were left with the memory of Frank Howard’s untimely absence and Syracuse’s unceremonious defeat.

Virginia, on the other hand, got the ultimate redemption. Tony Bennett led his squad to a 16-2 conference record – earning regular-season co-champions with North Carolina. Doubters and critics would rise again after the Cavaliers got knocked out in the second round of the ACC tournament. However, Virginia silenced the noise and captured its first national championship.

Both Syracuse and Virginia enter this year with a lot more questions than answers. ‘Cuse returns just one starter from last year in F Elijah Hughes. Starting SG Tyus Battle and F Oshae Brissett departed for the NBA, while PG Frank Howard and C Paschal Chukwu graduated.

Junior F Elijah Hughes (33) driving to the baseline against Carleton University on October 29, 2019.

Jim Boeheim needs a large contribution out of Hughes this year as he looks for the next star. ‘Cuse is not without options. There is a log jam of young guards with Buddy Boeheim, Jalen Carey, Joe Girard III, and Brycen Goodine all trying to establish themselves.

Buddy Boeheim is expected to start at shooting guard. The Sophomore appeared in 32 games last season and shot just above 35% from 3-point range. In his freshman season, Boeheim averaged just 6.8 points per game but expect him to carry much more of the load this year.

Joe Girard III is arguably the most notable recruit for the Orange. Girard had a decorated high school career at Glen Falls High School including the 2019 State championship.

Girard was named Mr. Basketball of New York last year. According to, JG3 averaged 48.6 points in his last year at Glen Falls.

Sophomore G Buddy Boeheim (35) taking a jump shot over a Virginia defender last season.

In the frontcourt, Canadian Freshman Quincy Guerrier is showing flashes of Brissett in his game, while freshmen centers John Bol Ajak and Jesse Edwards provide some pressure at the back of Bourama Sidibe.

Guerrier played high school basketball in Thetford Mines, Québec, Canada. He averaged 24.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in his final season. The freshman comes in at a sizeable 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds. He may appear at both forward spots throughout the year.

Virginia is without its three leading scorers from last season. F Deandre Hunter and guards Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome have moved on to the next level. They combined for 44.2 points per game last year on a Cavalier-squad that scored just over 71 points per game.

In the absence of Guy, Jerome, and Hunter, much of the weight will fall on seniors Braxton Key and Mamadi Diakite. Diakite appeared in every game last year and started 22 of them. He averaged just over seven points and four rebounds per game in 2018-19.

Freshman F Quincy Guerrier (1) taking a jump shot against Carelton University.

Braxton Key was a key player for the Cavs last season leading the team with 5.3 rebounds per game. Key had a team-high 10 rebounds in the National Championship game last year.

An interesting note, this game marks a change in the structure of the ACC. The conference schedule has expanded this year from 18 games to 20, causing a change in the format. Seven ACC matchups take place before the start of the non-conference schedule. Syracuse proceeds to the non-conference schedule as normal after the matchup against Virginia.

With so many question marks, fans and media can only speculate on the success of Syracuse and Virginia this season. In an ESPN ACC preview, writers pegged the Cavaliers as the fourth-best team in the conference this year and the Orange as either eighth or ninth. On a unique opening night, one thing is for sure: Syracuse and Virginia are going to put on quite a show.

Syracuse and Virginia tip off at 9 p.m Wednesday night. Our coverage starts at 8.p.m with an extended version of Countdown to Tipoff.

This story has been updated to correct copy.