Teams: Syracuse Orange (18-10, 7-8) vs. Duke Blue Devils (23-5, 11-4)
Day & Time: Saturday, February 24, 2018, 6 p.m. ET
Location: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C.
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Duke blog: Duke Basketball Report
Rivalry: 5-5, tied
Current Streak: 2, Orange
First Meeting: Led by seniors Dave Bing and Jim Boeheim, Syracuse got all the way to the Elite 8, but fell to Duke, 91-81. It was the Blue Devils’ third Final Four trip that decade, while preventing the Orangemen from making their first. George Hicker actually scored the most points for Syracuse, with 17. Vaughn Harper grabbed 10 rebounds as well.
Last Meeting: After scoring just 25 points in the first half, the Syracuse offense exploded in the second against Duke at the Carrier Dome. The Orange scored 53 points, including the final three at the buzzer from John Gillon to seal the 78-75 victory over the No. 10 Blue Devils. It was a pretty awesome win — the third against a top-10ish opponent at home last season. We were also pretty sure it locked up an NCAA Tournament bid. It did not.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (42nd year, 1,022-367); Duke: Mike Krzyzewski (38th year, 1,021-276)
Coach Bio: “Coach K” played point guard for Army in the 1960s, and after serving from 1969-74, he headed back to basketball. Krzyzewski joined his former coach Bobby Knight at Indiana, then took just one year to return to his alma mater. He coached Army through 1979-80, and he’s been at Duke every since. With the Blue Devils, Coach K has won five national titles, made 12 Final Fours, and took home 14 ACC Tournament championships. He’s also won some Olympic gold medals with some help from a guy named Jim Boeheim. Never heard of him.
Last Year: Duke started the year No. 1, but some early struggles in ACC play dropped them to the lower segments of the top 25. They’d bounce back, though, before dropping three of the final four games in the regular season (all on the road). None of that mattered when they went and won the ACC Tournament, however. And THAT didn’t matter when they lost to South Carolina in the second round of the NCAAs.
Last Game: Duke discarded Louisville like a used napkin, 82-56. Grayson Allen had the hot hand, with 28 points on 50 percent shooting. The Blue Devils hit over 48 percent of their shots, while Louisville made just 35.9. Duke also out-rebounded the Cards by 14. At least Syracuse’s Wednesday night went better than this (despite our own loss).
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: It would be Marvin Bagley III, but we don’t know if he’s playing (he’s missed three straight games with a right knee sprain). If not Bagley, then probably Wendell Carter Jr. Not only is he effective on the boards, but also has some ability to hit from three (17-of-35). He scores 14.4 points per game, with nearly 10 rebounds per as well. As mentioned before, foul trouble is the biggest concern for the Orange bigs, and Carter can do some damage there.
Jack Ferguson Memorial Random Three-Point Performance: One-time Syracuse basketball target Alex O’Connell. He plays less than 12 minutes per game, but is 20-of-38 from outside on the year. We could’ve used someone like that on this year’s team. It’s an extra layer of insult to have a former recruiting target burn us unexpectedly.
If Syracuse Wins: HUGE road win that would mean even more for Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament chances than a home upset over North Carolina would’ve. Also, owning a three-game win streak over Duke would be highly entertaining.
If Syracuse Loses: Last chance for a road Quadrant 1 win, and the highest quality win left on the board. If we lose this, it’s not a deal-breaker, but it would put a lot of extra pressure on that final game vs. Clemson.
Fun Fact No. 1: Three of these team’s past six matchups have come down to one possession (SU’s 3-0 in those), and another would’ve if not for a certain jacket throw.
Fun Fact No. 2: Duke’s won 30 or more games 14 different times since Coach K took over. That’s pretty damn impressive, no matter how you feel about the Blue Devils. Boeheim’s had four such seasons. That’s pretty cool, too. SU actually made the Final Four three of those times (including one national title).