carrier dome

AP Photo

The Syracuse Orange are enjoying a great start to their move into the ACC Conference.  With a record of 20-0 (7-0 ACC), ‘Cuse has been holding steady at #2 in the polls for the past two months, behind the also undefeated Arizona Wildcats 21-0 (8-0 PAC-12).

On their way to the 20-0 record, ‘Cuse has beaten ranked teams such as Baylor, former Big East foe Villanova, and another former Big East foe now turned ACC rival, Pitt. But their biggest challenge to date will come this weekend. The 17th ranked Duke Blue Devils (17-4 (6-2 ACC)) make their first trip to the Carrier Dome for ACC play (6:30 pm ET ESPN). Without a question, this game is the most important ACC game this season. On Saturday when I check the latest college basketball lines, I’m sure Syracuse will be a healthy favorite.

There is so much hoopla surrounding this game, that ESPN Game Day will be there and “Beat Duke” shirts have been printed up. According to Syracuse.com, the Carrier Dome is expected to have 35,446 in attendance for the game.  When the schedule was announced last summer, there were many people who believed that the court would be moved into the center of the Carrier Dome to maximize seating capacity to around 50,000.  That didn’t happen, but the experience for these Duke players will be unlike anything they have ever seen. The close proximity of the Cameron Crazies to the court on Duke’s home floor works to such an advantage. Now the tables have been turned, but in as extreme of a way as possible.

Three Things To Watch For

How will Duke’s outside shooting do against the iconic Syracuse 2-3 Zone?  

Duke shoots 41% from behind the arc. Syracuse’s length and ability to close in on shooters on the perimeter will be tested.

Which freshman will shine?  

Duke’s Jabari Parker has gotten all the hype and is as good as advertised.  But be on the look out for Syracuse’s freshman guard Tyler Ennis.  He  has been playing outstanding ball.  Averaging 12.3 ppg, 5.4 assists, 2.5 steals and shooting 40% from behind the arc, Ennis has joined Parker in the midseason Wooden Award Top 25.

Does Jim Boeheim or Mike Krzyzewski have an advantage over one another?  

I don’t think so.  They’ve only faced each other twice (1989 and 1998).  The two are very close friends and Boeheim has been one of Krzyzewski’s assistants for USA Basketball since 2005. Don’t forget that they took home gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.

I usually don’t like to make score predictions, but I’ll give it a shot this time.

Syracuse 69 Duke 64

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