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Next Up - Syracuse

Time: 6:15 || Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium || Video: ESPN

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Duke v Syracuse
SYRACUSE, NY - FEBRUARY 22: Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils guards against a dribbling Tyus Battle #25 of the Syracuse Orange during the second half on February 22, 2017 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse upsets Duke 78-75.
Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Next up for Duke is Syracuse and that game, like all of Saturday’s games, takes place against the backdrop of Friday’s Yahoo explosion and Friday night’s rather larger news out of Tucson, where coach Sean Miller was allegedly recorded discussing a $100,000 payment to center DeAndre Ayton.

Duke’s small part in this - a meal allegedly - possibly- bought for Wendell Carter’s mother - is dealt with in other stories on this site so please see those if you need to get caught up.

On to the game: Duke will most likely be without Marvin Bagley again but that hasn’t slowed Duke very much.

Duke will almost surely start Carter, Javin DeLaurier, Gary Trent, Grayson Allen and Trevon Duval.

Syracuse will likely counter with Paschal Chukwu, Oshae Brissett, Marek Dolezaj, Frank Howard and Tyus Battle.

It’s a pretty big lineup which works well for Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. Chukwu is a limited player but he’s 7-2 and long. Both forwards are freshmen. Brissett is by far the better player at least at this point. He’s 6-9 and 210 and averages 14.8 ppg and 9.1 rpg which compares favorably with Duke’s Carter.

Dolezaj is 6-9 too but pretty skinny.

Jim Boeheim has a solid backcourt with the 6-5 Battle, a sophomore, and 6-5 Howard, a junior.

Battle, who was a major Duke target in high school, averages 20.1 ppg and Howard puts up 15.5 ppg and 5.1 apg.

Most of the offense comes from Battle, Howard and Brissett, who between them average 50.1 ppg. Chukwu isn’t exclusively a defender but it’s where he’s most useful. It’s going to be interesting to see how Carter deals with a guy who’s that much bigger (although Carter is a lot more mobile).

It’s also worth noting that in its last three games, Syracuse went just seven deep. With Marques Bolden, Alex O’ Connell and Jack White, Duke probably has more off the bench. Jordan Goldwire, Antonio Vrankovic and Justin Robinson haven’t played a lot lately but all of them have been useful reserves at different points in the season.

Historically, Duke plays man D and Syracuse is exclusively a 2-3 zone team. That changes a bit as Duke has gone all-in on zone, something that Mike Krzyzewski specifically recruited Jim Boeheim to the national team for.

Duke’s zone has become much more effective but it’s right for this team and this season. Boeheim is committed to it. And with long-armed players like has now, his zone covers a lot of space. It’s more aggressive than the typical zone because he has always stocked it with long athletes.

So what to expect here?

Well, Boeheim has said, on more than one occasion, that this Syracuse team is bad offensively. It’s also relatively young and thin.

But it can still jam you up on defense and there is a shotblocker behind it and that means that no matter how bad Boeheim thinks his offense is, his defense can bog you down enough to give Syracuse a chance. And that’s been the case for almost the entire ACC season.

Wake Forest won by six, Notre Dame by two, Virginia by seven (at Virginia), FSU by 11 in double overtime on the road, State by four and UNC by four.

Not counting the double OT loss to FSU, only Virginia has won by more than 10 points, taking the second game 59-44.

So while Syracuse may be a bubble team, depending on who you ask, it’s been close. Brissett is a rising star and Battle can score with anyone.

There’s no question that Duke is playing well though. The Blue Devils have improved dramatically in February, ironically as Bagley has been forced to sit due to his knee issue.

Since joining the ACC, Syracuse has really put a target on Duke and sees this as an important rivalry. They usually play like it too.

So in other words, this should be an intense, hard-fought ACC game and one where the Cameron Crazies could play a major role.

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