Syracuse took a win in the second round of the ACC tournament over NC State, 89-68. Not only did the Orange win, but they did it convincingly. Buddy Boeheim was the definition of electricity, the coach’s son finished with 27, 20 of which were scored in the first half. Boeheim wasn’t the only one making a difference though, this defense looked the best it’s been all year.
The big question off the bat, is it enough to give the Orange an NCAA tournament bid?
The short answer, it depends. This was a phenomenal win, not a Quad 1 win, but one that will make it hard to deny Syracuse. Coach Boeheim thinks it’s enough for a tournament bid:
It very well might be enough for SU to get the nod, but just in case it isn’t let’s run down how else SU can secure a spot: At this point, Syracuse’s fate lays in the outcome against Virginia tomorrow and the final scores from the Mountain West tournament tomorrow. As of right now, according to Joe Lunardi’s bracketology, Syracuse sits behind Utah St., Colorado St., and Boise St. All three of those teams play tomorrow. If any of them lose, this SU win over NC State should serve as enough proof to move them into the last four admitted into the big dance. Although those teams aren’t the only ones Syracuse fans should be rooting against. Over in the Big East, Xavier is slowly but surely falling out of the tournament conversation. If the Muskateers lose to Butler in the first round of the Big East Tournament, that’s another way the Orange can get in.
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the importance of the depth on this team. Jesse Edwards, Kadary Richmond, and Robert Braswell off the bench have transformed this squad in the last few games of the year.
Without the production of those three, this team doesn’t get a win against UNC, against Clemson, and especially against NC State today. Edwards’ contribution to this team’s interior defense cannot be understated. We all know Marek Dolezaj has struggled this season to hold down the anchor of the zone, but that’s not his fault, he’s shorter and skinnier than any center in the league, and he plays 40 minutes each game, that’s bound to take a toll. Edwards has come in and relieved the Slovakian in a big way. Tonight the dutch big had 8 rebounds, 4 points and a block, if he can keep it up against Virginia you can book a Syracuse NCAA tournament bid. Kadary Richmond has provided the same effect at the top of the zone. Joe Girard hasn’t been the payer the fans all wanted him to be, but it hasn’t really mattered thanks to the new kid in town. The Brooklyn native has been everything and more for this bunch. His facilitation on the offensive end and length on defense has helped this team become what it is. Braswell has put in work mostly on the defensive side down the stretch. His length and ability to find the ball have been quintessential when Quincy Guerrier needs a break.
This team put itself in a great position to make the tournament. If they take down Virginia, obviously they’re in. Though, even if they keep it close in a loss, Syracuse fans have a reason to be optimistic.