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Syracuse travels to Durham, North Carolina, to face No. 6 Duke — the Atlantic Coast Conference’s highest ranked team — on Saturday. The matchup will be one of the last between head coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim.
Krzyzewski announced in June 2021 that this would be his last season at the helm of the Blue Devils. SU and Duke will meet again on Feb. 26 for the head coaches’ final regular season matchup.
The Orange (9-9, 3-4 ACC) are coming off a commanding offensive performance in their 13-point win over Clemson on Tuesday while the Blue Devils (14-3, 4-2 ACC) suffered their third defeat of the season against Florida State in overtime.
Here’s what our beat writers predict will happen at noon on Saturday:
Andrew Crane (12-6)
Sticking around for a bit
Duke 90, Syracuse 82
As with so many other games this season, it’s difficult to predict SU because teams like Colgate and Georgetown have picked apart its zone defense this year, and the unit hasn’t really strung strong performances together. But the Orange can still upset teams like Duke if they keep making 3-pointers. Boeheim said after the Clemson win that overpowering teams with lots of scoring and limited defense — “just scoring points,” he called it — isn’t a stable way to win. Sometimes, though, it works.
Look for SU to keep it close on Saturday, maybe even leading at halftime if its shots from Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard III fall early, and this will turn into a high-scoring game because of Syracuse’s defense, or lack thereof. The Blue Devils have more offensive firepower, and therefore will eventually pull away from the Orange because I don’t see Syracuse’s forwards containing Mark Williams underneath. That’ll eventually open up opportunities for AJ Griffin and Wendell Moore Jr. on the perimeter.
Against Clemson, Syracuse struggled to get many stops on defense. SU answered Clemson’s buckets with some of its own, particularly during the second half. The Orange did enough to pull out the win, but it was no thanks to their defense. SU is rebounding much better than expected, but it’ll need to produce something on defense to have a shot against Duke.
Syracuse is one of the streakiest teams in the country — it’s likely to create double-digit scoring runs on offense, but also likely to give up double-digit scoring runs on defense. I think Duke’s No. 8-ranked offense (per KenPom) will overwhelm the Orange by stringing together a number of scoring runs on its home court.
Gaurav Shetty (10-8)
Bounce back … for Duke
Duke 88, Syracuse 75
So I correctly predicted Syracuse to pick up a win before Duke, turns out I just picked the wrong game. I should’ve picked an FSU team that beat Syracuse and then upset Duke over Clemson — go figure. Anyways, it’s hard to justify picking Syracuse over Duke for any reason. The Blue Devils boast Paolo Banchero, the best player in the ACC per KenPom. It’s not hard to envision a scenario where Banchero gets hot early and lands Jesse Edwards in foul trouble in the first half. The Orange are a weaker team defensively with Edwards off the floor. There’s 7-foot-1 center Williams that Edwards has to contend with.
It would take a near perfect game of made 3s, excellent interior defense and rebounding for Syracuse to pull off an upset. But Duke has yet to lose two in a row this season, and that trend should continue on Saturday.
The post Beat writers agree Syracuse will drop below .500 with loss to No. 6 Duke appeared first on The Daily Orange.