Though Duke’s not the regular season juggernaut of some previous years, they’re still a top-10 squad at 17-3 (7-2 in ACC play) with a ton of offensive ability. Syracuse’s defensive efforts have certainly improved of late, but it’s not going to be an easy task to slow down the Blue Devils and their fleet of outside shooters. They do shoot 36.4% from three as a team, after all.
Before the game tips off on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET — airing on ESPN, of course — we asked the TNIAAM staff to predict what this one could look like.
Duke 80, Syracuse 74
Syracuse’s defense has struggled all season to contain elite centers in the paint and on the boards. Duke’s Vernon Carey Jr. might present the toughest challenge inside yet for the 2-3 zone. As we saw last game against Clemson, if frontcourt starters Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj foul out, SU’s defense becomes more vulnerable with freshmen Jesse Edwards and Quincy Guerrier. The Orange will need Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim to outshoot Duke from 3-point range with Tre Jones likely guarding Joe Girard III and Duke’s frontcourt getting the advantage in second-chance points. I think the Orange play this one close but come up short late.
Syracuse 83, Duke 81
As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a glass half full kind of guy when it comes to picking the Orange. Unfortunately, it hasn’t always served me well this year, but I’m going to stick with ‘Cuse. I think this team comes out mad as hell after blowing another big second half lead against Clemson, and I think we play efficient on offense. I don’t think we can stop Duke on the defensive end, so I’m going the “let’s out-score em” route. For this prediction to come true, we need Elijah Hughes, Buddy Boeheim, Marek Dolezaj, and Joe Girard to all have decent games at the same time. Our margin for error is small, but I think the offensive firepower is just enough to pick up a signature win that ends up carrying us to the dance.
Duke 83, Syracuse 77
If the Orange are going to pull off the upset they have to avoid early foul trouble against Vernon Carey and then need to shoot over 40% from 3. The Blue Devils have enough shooting this year that I don’t think Syracuse can sit back and dare them to make outside shots so this is a game the offense needs to win. In order to avoid Tre Jones I think Elijah Hughes brings up the ball from the start of this game which means that Joe Girard needs to be patient and make Jones chase him through a lot of screens. I don’t think this is a good match-up for Syracuse but these are the games Syracuse has been winning in recent years so it wouldn’t surprise me if they bounce back and get a huge resume win.....I’m just not picking it to happen.
Syracuse 79, Duke 77
Syracuse comes into a Duke game on the bubble? Color me surprised. I’m not sure Syracuse actually has what it takes to stop Vernon Carey down low and having both Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj foul out on Tuesday is a bad sign. But, call me crazy. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Syracuse gets the win against the Blue Devils at home behind a hot shooting night from the Buddy Boeheim, Elijah Hughes and Joe Girard troika. Syracuse should collapse on Carey and force Duke into taking 3s sans Alex O’Connel and Joey Baker. Rebounding will be key. But Syracuse makes enough plays on offense to get it done at home.
Duke 88, Syracuse 76
Syracuse certainly needs this win, and that compels many of us to buy into the upset potential (since we believe in the Orange, despite our better judgment at times). Unfortunately, I can’t this time around. The Blue Devils are an impressive three-point shooting team, and have an edge on the boards as well vs. SU. Don’t think Duke runs away until late, as foul trouble potentially rears its ugly head again for ‘Cuse. But the Blue Devils hit the shots necessary to get the road win, while the Orange just can’t get past the more explosive offensive squad.
Now it’s your turn...
Who will win the game between Syracuse and Duke?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and WE’RE BACK!
Duke, and a lot’s riding on those road games vs. FSU and Louisville now