Syracuse basketball faces familiar odds in its second NCAA Tournament game this March. After closing as a three-point underdog against No. 6 seed San Diego State, the 11th-seeded Orange throttled the Aztecs for a 78-62 victory.
Now has SU (+140) opened as a 3.5-point underdog to beat No. 3 seed West Virginia (-160) on Sunday, according to William Hill sportsbook. The total is set for 147. Syracuse is scheduled to tip off against the Mountaineers at 5:15 p.m.
“I’ve seen them about four times, five times at least this year,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said after the SDSU game. “And they’re really the best West Virginia team I’ve seen. I’m not just trying to say that because they have really, really good shooting. They always play good defense. But they’ve got multiple guys that can shoot the ball, which I haven’t seen that much from them the last few years.
“One of the best coaches in college basketball history, Coach (Bob) Huggins. And they’re a really good basketball team. I don’t know who is going to win, but whoever wins is really good.”
Syracuse will look to continue riding junior guard Buddy Boeheim, who has scored at least 25 points in the team’s last three games and four of the last five. Against the Aztecs, the younger Boeheim poured in 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field, including 7 of 10 from beyond the arc. He scored 16 straight SU points in the first half before sparking a 16-1 second-half run with his fifth and sixth three-pointers of the evening.
West Virginia also leaned on a 30-point scorer in its NCAA Tournament win over No. 14 seed Morehead State as sophomore guard Miles McBride made 11-of-17 field goals, including 3-of-4 three-pointers. The Mountaineers pulled away from the Eagles in the second half, receiving double-digit scoring contributions from three other players in guard Sean McNeil (13) as well as forwards Jalen Bridges (15) and Derek Culver (12).
“Deuce played great,” Huggins said of McBride. “I thought he was good defensively. I thought he did a really good job defensively, kicked a couple of balls loose that got runouts for us and we haven’t had a lot of those. We haven’t really pressured people to the point that we scored off our defense, and I think Deuce was a big key to that, and then obviously he made shots and what ended up being a six-point play was huge for us.”
SU and WVU haven’t squared off in nine years — back when the programs were Big East rivals. The Orange is 28-16 all-time against West Virginia — a series that includes five straight Syracuse wins. Most recently, SU defeated the Mountaineers 63-61 in January 2012.