After a highly anticipated and much needed quad-1 win inside Cameron Indoor where they defeated 7th ranked Virginia, the Duke Blue Devils host Syracuse tonight.
The Orange are coached by Jim Boeheim, who spoke very critically of former Blue Devil and potential first rounder, Jalen Johnson, after he’d opted out of the remainder of the season to work on his draft stock for the upcoming NBA draft. Jalen, whose stock has dropped since his departure according to reports, looks to revamp his status – working his way back into a potential top-10 pick. Boeheim stated Duke looks better without Jalen Johnson. He responded to criticism over his comments, admitting he made an observation after watching just two games and his comments were not to downgrade Jalen, the player.
Duke, the winner of three straight (N.C. State, Virginia, Wake Forest), has made their way back into bubble consideration and will look to keep the momentum going against Boeheim and his infamous 2-3 zone. The Orange, who rallied from 20-point deficit against Notre Dame Saturday, are coming off arguably their most impressive win. Both teams will be looking to build their tournament resume.
What to Watch For
Guarding the perimeter– An Achilles heel for the Blue-devils is guarding the perimeter. Syracuse has four players capable of shooting 35 percent or better from deep, specifically Buddy Boeheim who has the green light as soon as he crosses half-court. You could imagine, Duke will take turns chasing him off the 3-point line with Jeremy Roach and Jordan Goldwire.
Moving the ball– In the last three games, Duke is averaging 16 assists to 10 turnovers and is playing at least nine players during the win streak. Attacking the zone requires moving the ball and creating open shots. Expect Duke to utilize the hottest man in the ACC and potential ACC POY front-runner, Matthew Hurt, on the wings, low block and free throw area. The addition of Mark Williams into the lineup could be intriguing. Syracuse’s zone is designed to collapse on the perimeter, sometimes over-extending and often leaving the alley and paint area wide open. Duke has respectable shooters on the outside, so not taking the first shot Cuse will bait them into, but finding the best shot within each offensive possession will be key. Duke has assisted in over 60 percent of their shots during the 3-game streak (via ESPN).
Defense…Creating Turnovers– During the streak, Duke is forcing 11 turnovers a game – which is what the Orange average on the season. Boeheim likes to run and the Orange are ranked in the top 5 in offensive pace in the ACC and second in points per game (76.5).
Something has to give tonight with both teams red hot and on a winning streaks. More importantly, as Duke motto goes – “None of us are as strong as all of us”. The team is playing together with a chip on their shoulder. Duke is hungry!
How to Watch
TV: ESPN (Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas)
Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: Blue Devil Sports (David Shumate,John Roth)