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Next Up - Syracuse In Cameron

Time: 7:00 || Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium || TV: ESPN

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Next up for Duke is Syracuse as Michael Gbinije makes his second and final trip back to Cameron.

This time he comes as Syracuse's star and focus. Gbinije has had a terrific career with the Orange.

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Gbinije is having a tremendous year. He's averaging 17.2 ppg, 4.4 rebounds and assists, 2.5 spg and hitting 44.7% from the floor.

In some ways Syracuse and Duke reflect each other this year. Both have limited rosters though for very different reasons. Both have promising freshmen. Both have a player who could be key who hasn't contributed as much as hoped yet. And both have lost games they might have won.

Syracuse though appears to be trending upwards while Duke is at best holding steady.

You'll recall that Jim Boeheim was suspended for nine games because of the NCAA issues which have affected Syracuse in many ways. During his suspension Mike Hopkins was not particularly effective, something that's underscored by how much better the team is playing for Boeheim.

Since he returned, the Orange gave UNC a solid game, thumped BC and then really clobbered Wake Forest.

And like the rest of the ACC, Syracuse gets up to play Duke.

So what's going to happen Monday night?

Heck if we know.

This ACC season has been really unpredictable as Al Featherston details in his column today.

We do think this: Duke is certainly vulnerable but Syracuse is as well.

Syracuse is about seven deep - the eighth guy in minutes is Kaleb Joseph, who has all but disappeared from the rotation.

Boeheim is starting Gbinije and Trevor Cooney, who had a big game against Wake Forest with 25 points, although that might be as much about Wake's poor defense as anything, although he did have 27 against UNC. Both games are statistical outliers though.

Boeheim's going with a three-guard offense as freshman Malachi Richardson is also starting.

DaJuan Coleman and Tyler Roberson are the inside guys, with Coleman an oft-injured 6-9 senior and Roberson a 6-8 junior.

Roberson is averaging nearly a double-double with 9.9 ppg and 8.5 rpg. He's pulling 30.5 mpg.

Coleman has had a long road back from injuries. He's only playing about 16 minutes a game, and averaging 5.2 ppg and 4.3 rpg. He was supposed to be a real force in college and really hasn't played much at all.

Syracuse has only played 19 game and Coleman has already put in more minutes than in any previous season.

You have to feel for him: he was on the fast track in high school.

However Syracuse has an ace in its pocket in freshman Tyler Lydon and we're really looking forward to seeing him play. He's going to be very good.

Right now, like Brandon Ingram and Chase Jeter, he faces some limitations because of his weight. He's just 205.

And what of Duke?

We've watched Duke long enough to know that counting them out is a big mistake. Yes, Duke is limited. Yes, Duke is thin. Certainly this is an imperfect team.

However, as Coach K said after the Notre Dame game, "we're a good team. We’re not that good. But we’re called Duke and we’re coached by me."

Here's how we took that.

There's nothing you can do to make the team deeper. There's nothing you can do to make freshmen bigger by Monday night, or for that matter to make them sophomores.

You also can't make a thin, young team play perfect, flawless basketball.

However, here's what you can do.

You can play as hard as possible. You can outwork an opponent even if you are outmatched.

To us, that's what it means when he says that it's Duke and he's the coach.

You can't fix everything, but the one thing you can guarantee is effort. So expect a very solid effort. Because it's Duke, and Krzyzewski is coach.