Syracuse and Duke meet in the game that all SU fans have been looking forward to since the schedule came out. It is going to be big: Game Day will be at the Dome in the morning, and the matchup is on ESPN in primetime tomorrow night.
Here are five things to watch in the game.
The Carrier Dome is expected to once again break its own on-campus game attendance record tomorrow night against Duke. Last year, when the Dome set an attendance record against Georgetown, the Orange played poorly: Otto Porter went off and Georgetown beat SU by 11. With another 32,000-person crowd on hand, the Orange was handled by Louisville last year. However, this year the Orange has played well in front of the huge home crowds when Villanova and UNC came. So which Orange team will show up? Much of that hinges on one player.
The freshman point guard is key for the Orange tomorrow night against Duke. When he is on, the Orange is on, it’s as simple as that. Just look at the Wake Forest game. After the game, Coach Boeheim said, “Tyler played like a freshman in the first half, then he played like the senior he is in the second half.” Ennis became more composed, scored more points and got the win. Ennis turns the ball over at an extraordinarily low rate, especially compared to Michael Carter-Williams. Not to blame MCW for the losses in front of 30,000+ crowds last year, but turnovers are a way of showing a lack of composure, something that plagued the Orange last year. This year, the offense has been much smoother with Ennis.
Jerami Grant vs. Jabari Parker
Of course the Orange don’t play a man-to-man defense, so it will not totally be Grant’s responsibility to cover Parker, but the fact is that they start at the same position so they will likely be compared to each other all game. Grant has transitioned well into the starting lineup since DaJuan Coleman got injured earlier in the month. He is basically good for a big dunk or big block once a game, and has brought the same energy he had coming off the bench. Parker is a Player of the Year candidate and has been one of the best freshmen of this year’s highly touted class. Parker can score inside and out, all over the floor. Grant and Parker will be going at it mostly on the glass. The Orange needs to be able to win the rebounding battle again and limit the Blue Devils’ second chances.
The Orange Bigs
For much of the year, the SU big men didn’t contribute much to the offensive game. Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita always did their part on the defensive end, but not as much on the offensive end. Tomorrow, it will be important for the two bigs to continue their play from the Wake Forest game, when they combined for 12 points, 15 boards and eight blocks. If they can combine for somewhere between 12 and 18 points, that is likely enough to force Duke to really pay attention to the big men as an offensive threat.
Boeheim vs. Coach K
This is a huge matchup between two legendary coaches. The game will feature the most combined victories ever, 1914, as Coach K and Boeheim sit one and two, respectively, on the DI all-time wins list. They are also good friends. Boeheim has been an assistant for Krzyzewski with Team USA since 2006 and actually convinced Coach K, who only plays man-to-man, to switch to a 2-3 zone in a game against Spain. They have said they are dreading having to coach against each other.
At the end of the night, the Orange will beat the Blue Devils tomorrow night in the Dome. With the large crowd, and crazy atmosphere playing to its advantage, SU will be too much for Duke to handle.
Posted by: Seth Goldberg