We are less than a week away from the start of college basketball, and we spoke with ESPN and SNY’s Tim Welsh for his ninth annual take on the upcoming Syracuse basketball season on The Juice on the Cuse Podcast, presented by SNY.tv.
“I really believe they’re going to have another terrific season,” Welsh said. “Last year was certainly a rocky road and the finish was wonderful.”
The Orange got off to a slow start last year as the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. Various players missed time, including SU’s starting backcourt of Joe Girard and Buddy Boeheim.
That cost the team key practice time, which led to early struggles. But with the pandemic more under control now and a veteran team filled with upperclassmen, Welsh expects big things right out of the gate.
“They’re going to be off and running this year,” Welsh said. “You have a veteran ball club, much more size up front. They lost some key parts, but they’re going to be a different looking team that can really shoot the ball and be fun to watch.”
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim scheduled a difficult non-conference schedule, with games against Villanova, Georgetown and Indiana, to go with three games in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Combine that with an early ACC game against Florida State, and SU will be playing seven straight high-major opponents before the turn of the calendar year.
“My good friend Dickie V is not going to be able to call Coach Boeheim ‘Cupcake City’ anymore,” Welsh said. “He’s confident that his team can go out and do things against the iron around the country.”
Part of the reason for that is SU’s transfer players, upperclassmen Cole Swider, Symir Torrence and Jimmy Boeheim. Welsh is particularly intrigued by the addition of Jimmy Boeheim, who gives SU a versatile dimension they didn’t have last year.
“He’s a terrific player,” Welsh said. “He’s tough. He’s a really good passer for a big guy. He can play a point-forward. I’m excited what he will add.”
That all adds up to Welsh predicting a deep NCAA Tournament run. It’s worth noting that Welsh was one of the few analysts predicting the same last year, but he called them a “second weekend team,” despite many experts labeling the Orange as a bubble team.
“I would say at least to the Sweet 16 again,” Welsh said. “I really believe that with veteran presence in the backcourt, they’re going to take off running and have a great year. We’re going to see them two wins away from the Final Four again, and who knows what will happen.”
He was quick to point out one other factoid about the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
Said Welsh: “And by the way, the Final Four is in a favorite place for Syracuse fans, the Superdome in New Orleans.”
Afterward, editor in chief Brad Bierman calls in to break down Syracuse football’s win over Boston College as they near bowl eligibility.