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Syracuse men’s basketball: what to watch for vs Duke

Saturday night showcase

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Duke vs Syracuse Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (16-10, 9-6) plays the most anticipated home game of the year tomorrow night when the Duke Blue Devils (18-8, 9-6).

The Orange are on a three-game winning streak while Duke is 3-2 in their last five games. This will be the first time in 50 years that this game will feature a head coach other than Jim Boeheim or Mike Krzyzewski.

Here’s what we’re watching for in tomorrow night’s game:

Kevin: Flip the script

Former Orange target Kyle Filipowski is going to be the ACC ROY. It wouldn’t be surprising if Duke puts him at the foul line against the Syracuse zone because of his 7-foot frame. This is going to put a lot of pressure on Jesse Edwards to get out and challenge his jump-shot, so the Orange forwards are going to have to help him protect the rim. Duke is not a good 3-pointing team so Syracuse should encourage them to shoot from deep rather than let them dominate the paint.

Mike: Live for the moment

Despite it not being a particularly close game, last year’s hosting of Duke was a deciding factor for Judah Mintz to come play for ‘Cuse. Barring an ACC Tournament run to an at-large bid, this will be the brightest stage Mintz is on this season. We know he’s at least considering the NBA Draft, and the scouts will keep an extra close eye on his secondary abilities. If he can continue drawing fouls as he works inside, it could loosen up the Duke defense and give him and other wider lanes to the basket.

Dom: Don’t let history repeat itself

Last season, Duke torched Syracuse’s 2-3 zone scheme by putting Paolo Banchero at the foul line, leading to easy 15-foot jumpers for Banchero or open threes generated by the Orange having to bring extra help. Expect Duke’s Kyle Filipowski to play similarly as Kevin noted. With that said, Duke isn’t the offensive juggernaut this season compared to 2022, especially from the perimeter (the Blue Devils rank 12th in the ACC in three-point percentage). I’d like to see Syracuse attack Jeremy Roach on both ends of the court, providing extra press coverage at the top of the zone while taking advantage of his lack of size and defensive chops.

Christian: Be smart

As Kevin and Dom pointed out, this isn’t a Duke team that is glimmering with offense. However, the Blue Devils make up for that with rebounding and defense. Duke is the leading team in the ACC in rebounding margin at +8.35. The next closest team is UNC at +4.58. And if you thought NC State grabbed a lot of offensive rebounds, the Blue Devils average just over one more offensive rebound per game than the Wolfpack. Don’t be surprised if Duke sends out Ryan Young to play with Filipowski often this game. The size both of them have may be too much for the Orange to overcome.

Szuba: Keep Duke off glass

Hopefully Syracuse brought its Windex because it’s going to need to clean the glass if it wants to win this game. Dad jokes aside, as Christian alluded to, Syracuse will need to keep up its recent defensive rebounding effort against Duke. The Blue Devils rank No. 12 in the country in offensive rebounds, hauling down 13.0 per and grabbing 37.3% of available offensive rebounds. The 2-3 zone is prone to surrendering offensive boards, so this will be a big spot for the forwards Maliq Brown and Chris Bell. The guards will need to gang rebound in there, too as to not put the onus on Jesse Edwards.

What will you be watching for in tomorrow night’s game?