Teams: No. 11 Syracuse Orange (23-13, 8-10) vs. No. 2 Duke Blue Devils (28-7, 13-5)
Day & Time: Friday, March 23, 2018, 9:37 p.m. ET
Location: CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb.
Line: Duke, -11.5
TV/Streaming: CBS/March Madness Live
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Duke blog: Duke Basketball Report
Rivalry: 6-5, Duke
Current Streak: 1, Blue Devils
First Meeting: Syracuse lost out on its first Final Four trip back in 1966, when they fell to Duke in the Elite Eight (IN RALEIGH?!), 91-86. Rick Dean led SU in scoring with 16 points, but Jim Boeheim was second with 15. The Blue Devils pulled away late in a back-and-forth game, behind strong efforts from Jack Marin (22 points), Bob Verga (21) and Steve Vacendak (19). If Twitter had existed back then, Orange fans would’ve shouted about home-cooking for weeks.
Last Meeting: Syracuse’s offense shot just 31.5 percent from the field, and committed the constant error of ill-fated zone opponents by just jacking up threes (and missing most of them). The Orange lost 60-44 in a largely unwatchable game that had us all pretty concerned at the time. A lot of good’s happened since then, however.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (42nd year, 1,027-370); Duke: Mike Krzyzewski (38th year, 1,026-278)
Coach Bio: Coach K played at Army, then was active duty until 1974, when he rejoined Bobby Knight (his former coach) at Indiana. He stayed there for just a season before going back to his alma mater and coaching them for five okay seasons. That was enough to earn the Duke gig in 1980, and by year four he had them in the NCAA Tournament. Since then, he’s won five national titles, made 12 Final Fours and won 14 ACC Tournament titles. He’s also won three Olympic gold medals and in the process, earned the additional benefit of Boeheim’s zone defense.
Last Year: The Blue Devils started the season as the No. 1 team in the nation, then lost to Kansas to knock them from their perch. Some ACC struggles had them on the cusp of falling out of the Top 25, but instead they had a late save and then won the ACC Tournament. That got them a No. 2 seed, which they proceeded to squander with a loss vs. South Carolina in the round of 32.
Last Game: I don’t know. Duke looked like they were going to be in a bit of a fight for like eight minutes or so against Rhode Island. Then the Blue Devils did whatever they wanted from there. Duke led 45-28 at half, and closed out a big 87-62 victory. They outrebounded URI by seven, while shooting 57 percent from the floor. It was impressive.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Pick your poison, but against Syracuse it’s probably one of Marvin Bagley III or Wendell Carter Jr., who should make life very difficult for the Orange on the inside. They average a combined 34.8 points and 20.5 boards. They’re also going to put us in foul trouble at some point on Friday night. Probably.
Jack Ferguson Memorial Random Three-Point Performance: One-time Syracuse recruiting target Alex O’Connell. He’s hit nearly 50 percent of his threes, though just two since Valentine’s Day. O’Connell has come up big in a few ACC games, including hitting four from outside against UNC, three against Wake Forest twice, and four three-pointers vs. Pitt.
If Syracuse Wins: THIS team is going to the Elite Eight?! WHAT?! Also, getting there against Duke would be extra rewarding for us as a fan base (and maybe America wouldn’t really mind either). If we beat a Duke team literally built to beat us, I’d have a hard time not getting WAY ahead of myself on how the rest of this tournament goes for SU.
If Syracuse Loses: I mean, we can’t really be THAT upset. It’ll be Duke, so that’ll be annoying. And if we lose by a lot, some national media’s going to mouth off about it a bit too. But getting to the Sweet 16 with five healthy players is still pretty damn impressive. So NOW you can enjoy that gravy you’ve been staring at for the last week or so.
Fun Fact No. 1: The Orange have never beaten the Blue Devils by more than three points (last year’s John Gillon buzzer-beater at the Carrier Dome). Considering Syracuse has beaten the Blue Devils five times, that’s pretty strange.
Fun Fact No. 2: Interestingly, Syracuse has only faced five current ACC teams in the NCAA Tournament. And they only have a winning record against one of them (Virginia). The rest? Georgia Tech (0-1), Louisville (0-1), North Carolina (2-2) and Duke (0-2).