clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Next Up: Syracuse

After a dazzling game against Florida State and a critical suspension, how dangerous is Syracuse? Pretty damn dangerous.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Syracuse
Feb 26, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward AJ Griffin (21) lines up a shot in the first half against the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome. 
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Well first things first: Buddy Boeheim was suspended for Thursday’s game against Duke, as you probably know, for popping Florida State’s Wyatt Wilkes in, apparently, the solar plexus.

Most of us understand that had the officials caught the play during the game young Boeheim would have been ejected and playing against Duke.

Opinions differ widely on whether the suspension was warranted. Seth Greenberg said, emphatically, yes. Jay Bilas said, just as emphatically, that it was an overreaction.

As for us, we don’t really have a big opinion on it. Yes, it looked intentional. Boeheim admitted as much.

But both Wilkes and Leonard Hamilton said it was too much. Hamilton said Boeheim was as good a kid as there is in the ACC.

Our only point to add here is that there is precedent: Chris Paul was suspended for a cheap shot against Julius Hodge.

In that case, he hit Hodge right in the ol’ tamales, so maybe that’s different.

But that’s a bit of a sideshow in a sense. What puzzles us is how everyone seems to mean that Syracuse has no chance.

Orange beat writer Donna Ditota actually tweeted that it was a shame Boeheim’s career had to end this way. She wasn’t the only one - and by that, we mean Syracuse fans. A lot of people have concluded the game is already lost -the day before it’s played!

God knows what Duke fans are thinking. Hopefully we’re not as gullible.

What matters of course is what goes on in the locker rooms. We’d be astonished if Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t warning his team against not just compliance but a sudden emotional advantage for Syracuse. And we’d be equally surprised if Jim Boeheim wasn’t already cultivating an us-against-the-world mentality in his locker room. That team is likely to come out angry as hell.

Look, there’s no question that Boeheim is a big loss for Syracuse. He’s a wonderful offensvie presence and, for our part, we agree with Hamilton that he’s a good kid. Krzyzewski knows him well too and we’d expect some words in his defense from Coach K too. He’s really hard to dislike, even from a distance.

But leaving him aside, he wasn’t the reason Syracuse beat Florida State by 39 points. Cole Swider shot 9-15, not Buddy. Brother Jimmy hit for almost as many as Buddy and shot 75 percent while Buddy was closer to 33 percent. And Buddy didn’t come off the bench like the much-maligned Frank Anselem for a stunning 15 rebounds in 31 minutes and nine of those offensive.

Then there’s this.

Duke beat Syracuse with ease in Durham, winning 79-59 in Cameron and 97-72 up there. And it wasn’t that close the second time because Duke just crushed Syracuse.

If you’re a competitor and someone does that to you, do you accept it? Or do you just give everything you have?

Buddy or no, that’s what you should expect from Syracuse. Duke might win with ease again though we’re not so sure of that. But Duke will certainly get every bit of passion that team has.

Syracuse does have some other problems though and anger may or may not be enough to overcome them. Let’s look back at the last two losses, against UNC and Miami.

Against UNC, Syracuse went eight deep and two of those players will not be available: Boeheim and Benny Williams, who is out for the season with an injury.

And against Miami, without Williams, John Bol Ajak came off the bench - for one minute.

Against FSU, Ajak played six minutes and he got hurt. We’re not sure what his status is.

Unless someone really steps up, Syracuse’s bench now is Symir Torrence and either Sibide or Anselem, depending on who starts.

It’s a narrow path that Syracuse must travel, but emotion could see this team play far above what it normally does - and don’t think that Coach K doesn't know it. Just hope his young charges understand.

Draft Kings has Duke by -14. We’ll be curious to see how close that is.