The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is once again an underdog in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Can they pull off yet another upset — this time against the 6-seed San Diego State Aztecs?
While Syracuse ended the regular season in a pretty good spot, SDSU’s won 14 straight and coasted to a Mountain West title. And despite the fact that the Aztecs haven’t faced a 2-3 zone all year, they’re still a great team, with both an offense and defense good enough to end SU’s season.
Before this game tips off at 9:40 p.m. ET from Hinkle Fieldhouse (and on CBS), TNIAAM weighs in on who wins this matchup.
Syracuse 71, San Diego State 70
Honestly this is a good opponent for both teams on paper which is why a lot of places give the Orange the best chance of any double-digit seed to win. I give Syracuse a slight edge because Kadary Richmond gives them a big height advantage over the Aztec point guards. If Richmond is able to handle 20 minutes he can force San Diego St to adjust their defense and give the Orange a great opportunity to survive and advance. Syracuse can’t afford to waste possessions in this one as it’s going to take a full 40 minute effort to take down an experienced and talented team.
San Diego State 65, Syracuse 63
It’s a problem that usually doesn’t come up with Jim Boeheim’s teams, but this year it’s necessary to ask the question. When does Boeheim make his substitutions? No one is questioning Joe Girard and Alan Griffin’s offensive potential. But their tendency to throw away offensive possessions and to lose track of their defensive assignments will ruin any momentum that Syracuse tries to build. Boeheim’s got to have a short leash on the inconsistent parts of his team. If he doesn’t adjust quickly, the Aztecs may just have enough defense to send the Orange home early.
Syracuse 68, San Diego State 67
You guys see that? The liter of orange kool-aid is sitting in the TNIAAM refrigerator and most of us are taking sips. Syracuse has played its best basketball for March, so look for the 2-3 zone to tighten up just enough to limit San Diego State offensively. Buddy Boeheim has emerged as a go-to player for Syracuse down the stretch. He steps up along with Quincy Guerrier in this matchup and Jim Boeheim avoids two consecutive NCAA Tournament First Round exits.
Syracuse 71, San Diego State 67
This is all very reliant on foul trouble for Syracuse. Start fast and avoid it, and the team should be able to do enough on both ends to net a close win. I reserve the right to deny ever predicting a victory if fouls bench Quincy Guerrier and/or Marek Dolezaj early and the Aztecs are able to get things going inside (which should open up more open threes). At this point, I’m buying into a lack of familiarity with the 2-3 zone and Jim Boeheim’s experience. For a team that’s potentially less talented than some others to make the tournament in the past, let’s hope that’s enough.
Now it’s your turn...
Who will win the game between Syracuse and San Diego State?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and we did it again!
SDSU, and... drown your sorrows in San Diego IPAs