Syracuse basketball is ranked in the final Coaches Poll for the 2020-21 season. The Orange was placed 25th in the final poll after a run to the Sweet-16 in the NCAA Tournament.
"This is one of the best year's that I've ever had, coaching," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said following the team's Sweet-16 loss to Houston. "For these guys to get through this and to get to this stage, I think is just unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. I couldn't be more proud of a basketball team than I am of this team. Period."
In the season opener, starting center Bourama Sidibe suffered an injury that essentially cost him the rest of the year (Sidibe did return to play a few minutes in one other game). With Sidibe unavailable, Marek Dolezaj became the starting center. That put Syracuse in a significant disadvantage inside in many games.
There were two extended pauses and several games lost due to the pandemic. Jim Boeheim tested positive prior to the start of the season, and the program went on pause for two weeks leading up to the opener. Syracuse got just one practice in before that game, and was sluggish for most of it. Still, Syracuse battled back to pull out a win.
Due to quarantining, Syracuse was without Buddy Boeheim for three games. Then, after a comeback win over Buffalo, Syracuse had to go on pause again after the Bulls had a positive test. That led to multiple postponed games. Following three wins in four games, Syracuse was set to host Louisville. A positive test within the Cardinals program would cause that game to be cancelled at the last minute.
Weeks later, Syracuse had won two in a row and was set to play at Louisville when another positive test within the Cardinals program caused another last minute cancellation. After the loss at Georgia Tech, most believed Syracuse's NCAA Tournament hopes had been dashed.
The Orange played its best basketball down the stretch of the season, with impressive wins over North Carolina and Clemson to get itself back in the NCAA Tournament conversation. A blowout win over NC State and strong showing against Virginia solidified the selection.
In the tournament, Syracuse was an underdog to its first round opponent, San Diego State, who was riding a 14 game winning streak. The Orange dominated from start to finish and won the game. In the second round, Syracuse topped a very good West Virginia team. While the season ended in the Sweet-16, the season will always be remembered as one of the most unique in program history.