A quick take on Syracuse’s 88-79 loss to Duke in the quarterfinal round of the ACC Tournament:
WHAT HAPPENED: After Jimmy Boeheim’s tip-in of a Joe Girard miss gave Syracuse a 79-78 lead with 3:38 left, Duke went on a 10-0 run to close the game, and cut off any hopes of a dramatic upset. The dagger came when Paolo Banchero stole the ball from Jimmy Boeheim with 1:38 left, which led to a Jeremy Roach 3-pointer that put Duke up 85-79. It was a thrilling back and forth game that wasn’t decided until the final minute, and Syracuse lead by as many as six points at the 15 minute mark. SU actually went into halftime up 4 points, but Duke, after missing 10 straight 3-pointers in the first half, finished the game shooting 11-32 from downtown to survive Syracuse’s upset bid.
ANALYSIS: Barring Syracuse requesting a bid to the CBI, this ends the worst season in Jim Boeheim’s illustrious coaching career. The Orange finished a game below .500, and does not have the resume necessary to qualify for the NCAA or NIT Tournaments. And plenty of questions await the Orange in the offseason, including who stays and who goes. Technically, every player but Bourama Sidibe and Jimmy Boeheim (who is appealing for an additional year of eligibility) is eligible to return in the 2022-23 season, and that includes Buddy Boeheim and Cole Swider. Each has one year more of eligibility because of the the pandemic, though Jim Boeheim has indicated that he expects each to move on now that the season has concluded. While the Orange technically only has one more scholarship available, there are several players on the roster who may be on the move, headlined by rising sophomore Benny Williams, a five-star forward who struggled with finding consistent playing time throughout the year. Another candidate for transfer includes Frank Anselem, whose minutes fluctuated throughout the season. Could Jesse Edwards be on the move? The conventional thinking is no, but nothing is set in stone after Quincy Guerrier transferred to Oregon last summer.
HERO: Syracuse had plenty of standout performances without Buddy Boeheim in the lineup, starting with his brother Jimmy, who hit six 3-pointers to finish with a game-high 28 points. Joe Girard chipped in 23 while Symir Torrence had 7 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in replacing Buddy in the starting lineup. Wendell Moore Jr. had 26 to lead five different Duke players in double figures.
ZERO: Syracuse threw every kind of defense it could at Duke, including a triangle +2 and, *gasp*, man-to-man. But the Blue Devils proved to be too talented and too athletic in the end. Duke shot 47.8 percent from the field and collected 16 offensive rebounds while holding a +4 advantage on the glass.
WHAT’S NEXT: If Syracuse doesn’t go to the CBI, a long offseason. But there will be news in the relatively near future for Syracuse on the recruiting front. Elite 2022 combo guard Judah Mintz has taken official visits to DePaul (the supposed leader after several recruiting analysts predicted his commitment to the Blue Demons), Wake Forest, NC State and Syracuse, and is expected to announce his decision some time in April between his four finalists. Regardless of his decision, the roster will look significantly different the next time we write an Instant Juice on Syracuse basketball, with at least five incoming freshman, some of whom may be pressed into starting roles depending on what offseason roster moves are made.