No. 11 seed Syracuse dominated No. 6 San Diego State from start to finish Friday night, blowing out the Aztecs 78-62 to advance to the second round Sunday.
The Orange will face the winner between No. 3 West Virginia and No. 14 Morehead State for a trip to the Sweet 16 next weekend, and they have Buddy Boeheim to thank for it.
The son of head coach Jim Boeheim had arguably the best game of his career in the opening round, nearly outscoring SDSU by himself for most of the game with 30 points, four rebounds and seven three-pointers—almost as many as the entire Aztecs lineup sank (11). Everything was clicking for the junior guard when he sank a desperation heave from near midcourt as the shot clock expired with six minutes, 25 seconds remaining.
It's the second time in three years Syracuse has gone from bubble team to the round of 32. The Orange entered the 2018 NCAA tournament as an 11 seed only to upset No. 6 TCU and No. 3 Michigan State before falling to No. 2 Duke in the Sweet Sixteen.
That year was also the last time SDSU made the tournament, which resulted in first-round elimination as well. The Aztecs haven't reached the round of 32 since 2014 with former head coach Steve Fisher.
This year's San Diego State team was supposed to be different.
The Aztecs ran roughshod through the regular season to a 23-4 record and first-place finish in the Mountain West with ranked victories over No. 22 UCLA and No. 23 Arizona State. The Orange, meanwhile, finished eighth in the ACC with just one ranked victory coming against No. 16 Virginia Tech early in conference play.
No other Syracuse player scored more than 12 points (Joseph Girard III), while Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel each poured in 17 for SDSU. Yet the Aztecs shot just 35.8 percent from the floor as the Orange made more than half their shots (55.3 percent).
With two Boeheims running the show, a low-seeded Syracuse team may just be the most dangerous version of the program in recent memory.