Syracuse Men‚Äôs Basketball is headed to the Sweet Sixteen! Let‚Äôs all be honest, who expected anything else. The Orange were given the oh-so dangerous eleven-seed, which means they were destined to make a deep run. Now, two wins in, over San Diego State and West Virginia, SU looks like one of the most dangerous teams in the tourney. Why? It‚Äôs pretty simple– Buddy Boeheim.
We should start a movement to permanently change his name to Buddy Buckets because Boeheim is a scoring machine right now. The junior is averaging 24 points in the last nine games and dropped 27- and 31-pieces in both ACC Tournament games. He has knocked down five or more threes in seven of those last nine contests.
Buddy is continuing his impressive play in Indy, scoring 30 in the First Round on seven made threes and 25 in the Round of 32 thanks to six deep balls. He is only the second player in Syracuse history to score 25+ points in both of the first two games of an NCAA Tournament. Plus, only five players in SU history have hit six or more threes in a tourney game and Buddy has done it twice already this year. His seven threes against SDSU ranks second in program tournament history, only behind Gerry McNamara‚Äôs nine in 2004.
There you go. Those are the numbers. Plus, Buddy has been impressing his coach all along the way.
‚ÄúI couldn‚Äôt get to sleep last night just thinking about what he‚Äôs done‚Ä¶ It‚Äôs just amazing to see him take that game over when we were really struggling.‚Äù ~Jim Boeheim
Buddy went from an under-recruited three-star prospect, to one of the most lethal scorers in the country. So, now the question becomes, is Buddy the hottest player in the NCAA Tournament right now?
The answer, at least in my opinion, is yes. Buddy is top-five in the tournament in points per game at 27.5. There‚Äôs a caveat when it comes to that stat, too, because two of the players in front of him only played one game and are already knocked out. So, of schools still in, Buddy is second in scoring. He is also first in the tourney in three-pointers made at 13 and threes per game at 6.5. So, yes. Buddy Boeheim is the hottest player in the tournament right now.
However, let’s also give credit where credit is due. Here are some of the other players who are in the discussion and are shining in the NCAA Tournament:
- Kevin Obanor (#15 Oral Roberts) – 29 PPG, 11 RPG, 2.5 SPG
- Johnny Juzang (#11 UCLA) – 25 PPG, 3 3PPG
- Justin Smith (#3 Arkansas) – 24.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.5 SPG
Kevin Obanor has been fantastic for Oral Roberts and has a serious argument for the hottest player in the tournament. But here‚Äôs the thing, the Golden Eagles have had other players step up in addition to Obanor. Buddy has been really the only go-to guy for the Orange, which was put on full display in the second half of SU‚Äôs win over WVU. Syracuse has needed Buddy more than any other team has needed an individual player, so that is why you have to give the hottest player title to Mr. Buckets.