College Crosse's Impossibly Early, Definitely Perfect (Sort of), Rock-Solid (Maybe) Pre-Fall Ball Top-20: Number 13 (Syracuse)

The 2013 season is six months away. Let's punch fate in the face and make wild assumptions about what could be the best 20 teams in the country next year.

Team: Syracuse

Rank: 13

Important People: Derek Maltz (A); JoJo Marasco (A/M); Bobby Wardwell (G); Brian Megill (D); Brandon Mullins (D)

Formerly Important People: Tom Palasek (A); Tim Desko (A); Bobby Eilers (M); Kevin Drew (SSDM)

Final 2012 Poll Positions: Media: 14; Coaches: 16

2012 Record: 9-8 (3-3, Big East)

2012 Snapshot: Hot cha-cha!

* * * * *

Nightmare Fuel

The faceoff concerns from 2012 remain, as does the totality of production from the offense. These are not good things. In fact, these are really bad things, like finding out that your boss moonlights as a mild money launderer and your 401(K) plan has been his vehicle for minor felonious activities.

Syracuse was built around an offense last season that relied fairly heavily on volume to make the scoreboard blink; playing in a negative possession margin position didn't help the Orange get to where it needed to be on that end of the field. Syracuse's two-man faceoff team -- Chris Daddio and Ricky Buhr -- were pretty impotent throughout the season, combining for only a 47.0 win percentage at the dot. Relived toward the back-end of the year by Megill, the Orange's effort on the whistle didn't appreciably increase, seeing the defensemen win (on the year) just 46.8 percent of his attempts. The name of the game for Syracuse in 2013 is whether they can move the possession margin in their favor, mostly because of the uncertainty around the complete composition of the Orange's offense (a unit that will, again, likely need to rely on volume to score). If Syracuse struggles -- once again -- to get the job done at the dot, the Orange could be looking at another long season under the Carrier Dome bubble.

A Thousand White Doves

There are two circumstances that make Syracuse an intriguing outsider to move to Philadelphia next May: (1) Almost the entire defense returns in 2013, headlined by Megill, Mullins, Wardwell, Matt Harris, and Dave Hamlin; and (2) there are lots of offensive pieces kicking around that have the potential to do a lot of damage if some development and consistency occurs throughout fall. Assuming Marasco moves back to attack next year, the Maltz-Marasco combination is a nice cornerstone to build around with Billy Ward, Kevin Rice, or Eric DeJohn potentially filling that third spot. The offensive midfield has some interesting talent in Hakeem Lecky, Henry Schoonmaker, Luke Cometti, Scott Loy, Matt Pratt, Ryan Barber, and Tom Grimm, but how that unit will coalesce -- nevermind what the potential lines are -- is the ultimate concern. There is talent on the offensive end; the questions are only if the potential will be realized.

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