Syracuse won three of its last four games to sneak into the NCAA Tournament once again, avoiding a last Four In play-in game. And while SU has been hot to finish the season strong, most of the pressure has fallen on the shoulders of Buddy Boeheim.
The junior is coming off a career high 31 point performance against Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. But outside of Boeheim, there’s not much clarity of who else can consistently be relied upon.
While Alan Griffin is averaging nearly 15 points per game, he scored just three in Syracuse’s elimination against Virginia. While Griffin has the ability to score 20 points on any given night, he struggles against some of the top defenses in the country. San Diego State, with the 11th adjusted defense in the nation, will be the toughest defensive matchup Syracuse has faced all season.
Quincy Guerrier is another player that could play second-fiddle to Boeheim throughout the Tournament, and potentially be an X-factor on a March Madness run. However, Guerrier has only scored more than 15 points once since January, and has struggled with lower body injuries toward the end of the regular season. While he was second on the team with 14 points in SU’s 72-69 loss to UVA, he has been less of a factor than earlier in the season.
While Girard or Dolezaj could potentially fill into the role as the second-option for a game, the best solution is Griffin. SDSU is better defensively defending two-pointers, rather than threes. That makes it difficult for Guerrier or Dolezaj to have great games. Instead, SU must depend on one of its more inconsistent players in Griffin.
But if the junior is playing well, and hitting his shots, he’s almost as difficult to stop as Boeheim. Griffin can hit shots from anywhere on the floor, and it often doesn’t matter how well the defender is contesting a shot. As an 11-seed looking to pull off some upsets, Syracuse needs Griffin and Boeheim to lead the way.