After two straight wins, the Syracuse Orange (12-7, 2-4) take on the suddenly struggling Duke Blue Devils (14-4, 3-2) down in Durham, N.C. Unlike some of the recent, pretty awesome matchups between these two teams, this one may not be as good... at least on paper. But since Jim Boeheim's return to the sidelines, the Orange have at least LOOKED a hell of a lot better, no?
Before the teams tip off at 7 p.m. ET tonight, portions of the TNIAAM crew tries to predict the outcome:
Duke 82 - Syracuse 76
The Orange hang with the Dukies for much of the game in Cameron Indoor, but ultimately cannot get stops down the stretch when they need them most. If the Orange intend on winning they are likely going to need to score more than 80 points because Duke has put up at least 80 points in 6 out of their last 7. One key to the game will be whether or not the Orange can run the Duke shooters off the 3- point line. Syracuse must take advantage of the Amile Jefferson injury and out rebound Duke and create second chance opportunities if they want to win.
Syracuse 68 - Duke 66
Syracuse is on a two game win streak while Duke is on a two game slide. I look for Syracuse to carry momentum (and better defensive play) into Cameron and win. I think Gbinije and Cooney will lead Syracuse in the victory.
Duke 78 - Syracuse 75
Syracuse is actually the deeper team, but Duke's issues at center could be the difference. Dajuan Coleman has looked better as of late and if he can control the paint, the Orange has a chance at getting a huge road win. SU needs to make sure to find Allen, Ingram, Jones and Kinnard on the perimeter. I think it will come right down to the end, with Duke squeaking out a win.
Duke 86 - Syracuse 77
Syracuse is obviously beginning to play better, but I simply can't see them being able to score enough points to win at Duke. The Blue Devils have one of the country's most prolific offenses, having not scored fewer than 80 points in a single home game this season. Yeah, they just lost at home to Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish needed more than 90 points to pull off the upset. Can't see the Orange replicating that.
Duke 80 - Syracuse 73
If this game were in Syracuse, you might be able to convince me that the Orange pull the upset over a reeling Duke team. But in Durham, it's just too tall of an order. That doesn't mean SU is overmatched, however. In fact, Boeheim's team is probably better equipped to knock off the Blue Devils than they have been since 2014. Syracuse's advantage in the paint can pay dividends as long as Tyler Roberson and Dajuan Coleman can stay out foul trouble. If they can't, and Duke can shoot (and score) at will, things could get out of hand. If not, this one could actually end up coming down to the wire.
So, how about you?