The 11th-seeded Syracuse Orange (23-13, 8-10) are still alive in what’s been a wild NCAA Tournament this year. But the surprising run meets its biggest roadblock yet on Friday, when SU faces the 2-seed Duke Blue Devils (28-7, 13-5) in the Sweet 16. Syracuse has already faced Duke this season, losing 60-44 down at Cameron Indoor last month.
The Orange and Blue Devils tip off from CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. at 9:37 p.m. ET on CBS or March Madness Live, but before that we predict a few things.
So what does (some of) the TNIAAM staff think will happen in this game?
Syracuse 61, Duke 58
Going against my bracket here, but something seems too special about this team to not have them moving on. If they can keep the scoring to a minimum, and give Tyus Battle a shot to win it late, then be ready for some theatrics and another chance to get into the Final Four.
Duke ?, Syracuse ?
Srsly, IDK. Your guess is as good as mine.
Duke 71, Syracuse 62
It’s unlikely that both offenses play as poorly as they did in the earlier meeting, but I also think Duke is going to feel comfortable playing slower than normal if they are ahead. Expect them to use some soft 3/4 court pressure in the first half to try and entice Syracuse into early shots. When Duke is on offense I think they will be patient and look to get the ball down low to put Chukwu in foul trouble. It’s important for the Orange frontcourt to avoid the fouls in this game. When Syracuse is on offense, it’s important that they don’t settle for 3s as they did in Durham. Duke has a bit deeper bench, but the drop-off on offense from Carter/Bagley to Bolden/White is significant. I think the Orange will hang tough but in the end Gary Trent Jr will hit enough shots to push Duke forward.
Duke 68, Syracuse 60
The same caveats about tournament play and this Syracuse defense don’t really apply when Duke, a team that runs a variation of SU’s zone and has already seen it this season, gets five days to prep. That doesn’t mean the Blue Devils will be putting on an offensive showcase. But they’ll be better prepared than Michigan State, which ignored the obvious opportunity to exploit the Orange down low and create foul trouble. Syracuse hangs around by way of pace and hitting enough shots to stay close. Sadly, the run ends here for Syracuse.
Now it’s your turn...
What will be the outcome of the Syracuse vs. Duke game?
This poll is closed
Syracuse wins and OHMYGOD WE ARE GOING TO THE ELITE EIGHT
Syracuse loses and damn, this team still overachieved this year and it was fun