Welsh: Syracuse basketball poised for ‘deep’ NCAA Tournament run

Guerrier UNC
Syracuse forward Quincy Guerrier (1) goes up for a rebound against North Carolina Tar Heels forward Garrison Brooks (15). Mandatory Credit: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online

While most national publications don’t have Syracuse as a factor this season in college basketball, ESPN and SNY’s Tim Welsh sees things differently. With the Orange opening its 2020-21 season this Friday, I chatted with the former Iona and Providence coach on this week’s The Juice on the Cuse podcast.

Welsh likes what he seems from Syracuse’s returning players, and believes that the team is built for a deep NCAA Tournament run.

“Just the experience, they played so many minutes last year, that group,” Welsh said. “This could be a special year for this group because of all of the experience and the success they had at the end of last year.”

To be sure, Syracuse is returning four of its five starters, though the one missing starter, Elijah Hughes, was the ACC’s leading scorer at 19.0 points per game. He was taken with the 39th pick in the NBA Draft last week.

But Welsh is bullish on Hughes successor, Illinois transfer Alan Griffin, and seems him picking up where Hughes left off.

“He’s a good player; he reminds me of Elijah Hughes in a lot of ways,” Welsh said. “He’s a good shooter. He’s a slashing forward. He can play multiple positions out there.”

All of that leads to good things ahead for this year’s team.

“I think Syracuse this year is a deep that can go deep into the Tournament,” Welsh said. “I think they’re a second weekend team and maybe beyond that.”

» Related: Syracuse basketball will be NCAA Tournament team with room to spare, ESPN analyst says

TJO Editor in Chief Brad Bierman then calls into to the podcast to chat about Syracuse’s embarrassing 30-0 loss to Louisville on Friday. Little is going right for the football team, Brad says, but there’s not going to be a coaching change on the horizon and Babers will most definitely return for his sixth season as the Orange’s head coach.

Brad closes with his thoughts on a potential NCAA Tournament bubble in Indianapolis in March. Meanwhile, I comment on Syracuse basketball’s success in recent NBA free agent signings, with Carmelo Anthony and Michael Carter-Williams resigning with their respective teams (the Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic, respectively), while Jerami Grant is $60 million richer after inking a free agent deal with the Detroit Pistons.

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About Wes Cheng 2635 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.