Admittedly, the buzz around Monday night’s Syracuse Orange men’s basketball matchup with the Duke Blue Devils is not what it usually is — or what it’s usually about. Neither team’s ranked, they’re both fighting for their NCAA Tournament bubble lives, and it’s unlikely to set ratings records the way the series has in the past. Yet, it still matters a ton for both program’s seasons, and obviously for Orange fans, who possess a certain amount of disdain for Duke.
In advance of this 7 p.m. ET tipoff from Cameron Indoor Arena (and on ESPN), the TNIAAM staff makes picks about what’s going to happen between Syracuse and the Blue Devils.
Syracuse 72, Duke 70
If you thought Notre Dame was bad defensively, Duke is worse. The Blue Devils have the second-worst field goal defense in the league and the worst three-point field goal defense in the ACC. Duke doesn’t have that much height as well, with its only player taller than 6-foot-10 in Mark Williams averaging under 11 minutes per game. The Orange have had success against smaller teams this year. How Syracuse loses this game is through a familiar formula: the Orange guards take the majority of the shots instead of the frontcourt which leads to inconsistent offense. This should be another good game for Quincy Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj. However, the Orange are excellent at shooting themselves in the foot this year, so I won’t be surprised if that happens as well.
Duke 67, Syracuse 64
These teams are about as evenly matched as you can get. Both enter on three-game win streaks and during those wins neither team has allowed an opponent to score more than 68 points. With a short turnaround this game is going to come down to limiting mistakes. The Orange’s success from the foul line has been a pleasant surprise so it would be wise for Syracuse to continue to focus on scoring inside the paint. Containing Matthew Hurt is going to be the challenge for the zone and if he can be forced to take a lot of shots to get his points Syracuse can leave NC with a crucial Q1 win.
Syracuse 75, Duke 74
Alrighty then. Let’s go with Syracuse for some of the reasons Christian already mentioned above. Duke is a smaller team, plus it hasn’t been good defensively this season with the exception of Jordan Goldwire. If Joe Girard/Kadary Richmond can set the Syracuse offense up in the half-court I like the Orange to get it done. Worth mention that Duke is coming off a big win and sometimes it can be difficult to cool a team down, especially on a short turnaround. Syracuse in a nail-biter. Hopefully Dickie V has his Pepto Bismol handy for this one.
Syracuse 78, Duke 75
Against a very efficient Notre Dame offense on Saturday, Syracuse managed to avoid a shootout despite what the first half looked like. That experience could help them here against the Blue Devils, who have the ability to create a similar type of game — but have the talent to not get knocked off track like Irish were. If the Orange stay within their game and keep things largely inside the arc, it bodes well for their chances. Still, this is a very hungry Duke team that will be well-coached and prepared after coming off a big upset over UVA. It’s going to be close no matter who wins.
Now it’s your turn...
Who will win the game between Syracuse and Duke?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and we’re setting up shop in the center of Bubble-ville
Duke, and it’s a 2-hour commute to the NCAA Tournament at-large conversation