With the ACC Tournament around the corner, Syracuse basketball is squarely on the bubble, in need of at least one win. But it seems like a run in the conference tournament would push the Orange over the edge into the Big Dance.
In order for Syracuse to make a deep run, they’ll have to rely on Buddy Boeheim. SU is 6-1 when the junior notches 20 or more points. There’s no defense that can stop a hot Buddy. If he catches fire, SU will run with anyone.
Syracuse starts in the second round on Wednesday against NC State. While the Orange took the first two bouts, the Wolfpack dominated inside. Center Manny Bates had a 17 point, 14 rebound double-double in the Dome. It was just the second double-double of his career. D.J. Funderburk missed the first game due to a university violation. In the rematch, he put up 14 points, with four trips to the free throw line.
The point is, despite the two victories, Syracuse has nobody on the roster that can neutralize either big. The 2-3 Zone certainly won’t fool either of them. So Syracuse is simply going to have to outscore NC State. The honus is on Boeheim to spark the scoring from the perimeter.
Fans are also thinking about the third round of the ACC Tournament, rightfully so. One win likely won’t be enough for Syracuse to punch their ticket. The only problem is Virginia is waiting for them on Thursday if SU wins on Wednesday. The Cavaliers killed the Orange 81-58 in the first and only matchup of the year in January. It also might have been one of Buddy Boeheim’s worst games of the season. He limped to nine points on just 1-7 from range. The worst part was Boeheim’s perimeter defense at the top of the Zone. UVA’s Sam Hauser hit seven three-pointers. He and his fellow starters combined to hit half of their deep balls.
Between the scoring spark Syracuse knows Boeheim is capable of providing, and the defense at the top of the Zone, no player is more important for Syracuse’s Tournament hopes than Boeheim.