The Syracuse Orange head to Cameron Indoor Stadium for their second tilt of the season against the Duke Blue Devils. It's a return to the site of the infamous Boeheim jacket incident and there's sure to be a few fan signs noting it. The big question is whether or not the Orange are able to steal a win in this hostile environment. Are they capable? Will Rak take it to a new level as he tries to cement his legacy? Let's see what the TNIAAM crew thinks.
Duke 81 - Syracuse 73
I'll say this: Syracuse will have its chances in this game. Duke is clearly the better team and has the added home-crowd/officials advantage, but there's something about Jim Boeheim teams. Boeheim rarely allows his teams, with few exceptions, to tank. And the other interesting thing about SU right now is, gritty and playing with pride, yes, but it's also a tournament-worthy bunch. The Devils will win, but the Orange will have another "what could have been" type performance.
Duke 83 - Syracuse 75
We know Syracuse isn't going to roll over and that the Orange match up pretty well with the Blue Devils, so this should be a close game throughout. The focus from many observers will be on the Okafor-Christmas battle, but this game will be decided by the perimeter players. If Syracuse can challenge the Duke shooters as well as they did the other night at Notre Dame, they have a chance to escape Durham with the win. In the end, I think Duke has a little more talent and that makes the difference, but I've been wrong with my last two predictions so let's hope I extend that streak to 3.
Duke 74 - Syracuse 68
The Notre Dame game was the exception, not the rule. All year long, Syracuse has been good enough to compete with better teams for at least the first half, but rarely have the Orange been able to knock off the elite teams. I envision SU hanging with Duke through the game's first 20 minutes, but at some point in the second half, the Blue Devils are going to pull away. Still, I'll be content if (a) Michael Gbinije again plays well against his former team and (b) Rakeem Christmas avenges his 5-of-17 performance on Valentine's Day. Then again, if both of those things happen, Syracuse just might pull off the upset.
Duke 73 - Syracuse 68
I REALLY want to pick Syracuse for an upset here, but as great as it sounds, it's not likely to be in the cards. The Blue Devils have struggled with some lesser opponents lately, sure (hi, Virginia Tech?), but a lot of that can also ride on the three-ball. The Orange don't have the sharpshooters to pull that off, hence a lower-scoring prediction above. SU can make it close by way of Rakeem Christmas alone, but at the end of the day, Duke IS very good and the game is at Cameron Indoor. We'll win there at some point soon. Just not tonight.
Duke 78 - Syracuse 70
I honestly don't know what to do anymore. Usually when I say Syracuse will win, they lose. When I say they'll lose, they win. So I'll say they'll lose for karma purposes but I also do assume they will. On paper, they really shouldn't win this game. But I suppose if Rakeem Christmas is in some kind of This Is My Legacy zone and Michael Gbinije goes off on some kind of payback tour, the Orange certainly could pull off another huge upset. I hope they do. It'd be awesome for the team. But...I'm not ready to write it down. #Disloyal
How about you?