The Syracuse Orange (9-9, 3-4) men’s basketball team will look to add a big-time win when they travel to Durham to face the Duke Blue Devils (14-7, 4-2). Can the Orange get a win in Jim Boeheim’s final match-up with Coach K in Cameron? Here’s what we’ll be looking for when these teams meet:
Kevin: Defending the paint
I jokingly said on Twitter that Syracuse’s defenders should keep one foot in the lane and dare Duke to beat them from deep. But seriously the Orange need to keep Duke out of the paint and all five players need to help out on the defensive glass. If Syracuse can’t stop penetration and offensive rebounds then Jesse Edwards might be sitting too long to have his usual impact.
Zeke: Syracuse utilizing players on their bench more often
When faced up against Clemson Tuesday night, Syracuse utilized the players on their bench more often than normal and found success. Earlier in the season, the bench’s impact during games was minimal but when the bench has seen action more recently, some players have found ways to make an impact. Benny Williams finally made some positive impact with an emphatic block in the first half. Symir Torrence collected 4 points, 2 assists, and 1 rebound in 14 minutes of action. Frank Anselem made a basket and grabbed a rebound in four minutes while Bourama Sidibe made one basket in two minutes of action. Syracuse has players on its bench that can play minutes and could possibly help keep their starters foul counts down so they can play all the way through games. Expect Syracuse to play their bench and continue to experiment with the bench’s minute distribution against the Blue Devils at Cameron.
Szuba: Make it a shootout
Besides the obvious “Will Trevor Keels play?” thing to look out for, I’ll go with the outside shooting here. The best chance Syracuse has to win this game is to turn it into a shootout at both ends. The Orange need to continue to get open shots for Buddy Boeheim, Joe Girard and Cole Swider, too. On the other end, we know the Syracuse zone has given up a lot of 3-point attempts this season and that could work in their favor against a Duke team devoid of volume shooters that makes less than eight 3s per game. AJ Griffin has shot it better from deep recently and Syracuse will have to locate Joey Baker — the lone outside threat that could get going (and might see extended time). But if Syracuse can force Duke into 3s — instead of having Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams dominate inside — they’ll have a shot.
Christian: Don’t resort to comfort
Syracuse’s temptation will be to shoot the lights out at Cameron Indoor, but I would suggest caution on that strategy. Duke is the second best team in the ACC in three-point defense, with four teams shooting their worst three-point percentage against the Blue Devils this season. The Orange have a bad tendency to slowly adapt when an offensive strategy isn’t working. Syracuse needs to diversify how it scores to keep up with the Blue Devils or else the Orange won’t hit the big shots when they need to.