Big City Classic: Syracuse Needs Sorting Out As Duke Looms

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 28: Zach Howell #21 of the Duke Blue Devils leads the team off the field after losing to the Maryland Terrapins 9-4 at M&T Bank Stadium on May 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Maryland defeated Duke 9-4. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Syracuse Orange lacrosse team usually enters an event like the Big City Classic as a favorite, or at the very least, a team with a decent chance of winning.

This year things look to be in limbo as the Orange take on the Duke Blue Devils, who are ranked No. 8 in the nation.

Now, the Devils (8-3) have three losses just like the Orange (4-3) but they've got a whole lot more quality wins. While they're inconsistent, they've at least shown flashes of quality play. They got thoroughly outplayed by Notre Dame in an early-season 7-3 defeat but also held strong to knock off UNC a few weeks back.

Glaude is breaking down every team at the Big City Classic over at College Crosse and he's perplexed by what the Blue Devils may or may not bring with them to MetLife Stadium this weekend.

I've stopped trying to figure out Duke this season. Once I realized that thinking too hard about the Blue Devils would make your brain leak out of your ears while you slept, I just decided to accept the fact that Jordan Wolf, Josh Dionne, Rob Rotanz, and Christian Walsh are offensive threats sent from the future to embarrass goaltenders and sometimes make their mission look like an aborted sortie. It's just the nature of time travel, I suppose, that creates this kind of compartmentalized jet lag resulting in some odd outings.

Duke is ranked seventh nationally in face-off win percentage, which is a serious red flag for Syracuse. Face-offs are one of our most glaring issues. The other, it seems, is an inability to mix up our shot selection.

"It’s frustrating," senior midfielder Bobby Eilers said, "because at the end of the Villanova game we shot the ball into his stick, shots that could have tied the game or taken the lead – crucial shots where if you just change that plane slightly it’s going to go lower. We’re making every goalie look like an all-star at this point. Every goalie has 10, 15 saves against us."

I don't know if the Orange can fix their issues on such a high-profile stage but it wouldn't hurt to start down that road. After Duke, the Orange have games against No. 11 Princeton and No. 4 Cornell looming. If they don't right the ship soon, winning the Big East Tournament might be the only way the Orange will be able to get in to the NCAAs, and that's no longer a given.

Syracuse plays Duke at approx. 4 p.m. EST on Sunday and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

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