Syracuse takes on Duke tonight in a game that probably looked a lot better on paper before the season. The Orange are 13-6 coming into this one, the Blue Devils, 10-8. Despite mediocre records, both teams are riding three straight wins heading into tonight. It always feels good to have a little winning streak under your belt, but which team is riding higher heading into Cameron indoor at 7:00 PM?
For Coach K’s group the last couple weeks have been interesting to say the least. On February 15th, Duke’s star freshman forward Jalen Johnson opted out of the season in order to get ready for the NBA draft. If you haven’t been living under a rock you’d know that shortly after, Jim Boeheim had some comments regarding Johnson’s departure, saying he was actually doing more bad than good for the Blue Devils and it should have actually been seen as a positive for the team. Say what you will about those comments but the hall of famer must’ve known something, as the team has looked solid without Johnson. He played just 8 minutes in the Duke win over NC State and was gone by the time the Blue Devils trounced Wake Forest and upset No. 7 Virginia. Safe to say this team feels like a whole new squad since the departure of Johnson, whether his leaving had anything to do with their recent success or not. In terms of those wins, there are not many better feelings than beating a team you have no business beating. The Blue Devils got to experience that, as they ousted Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers by just 1 point on Saturday. Coming into this matchup with Syracuse, Duke quite literally couldn’t feel much better. The only way a team could feel close to how Coach K’s team does is if they performed some kind of huge come from behind victory…oh wait.
After heading into the half down 46-32, the Orange stunned the Fighting Irish, outscoring Notre Dame 43-21 in the second half, securing victory on Saturday. What a finish, and what a feeling for this bunch. That makes three makes three straight for SU. But the question now becomes, which team is riding a better high heading into this one? Duke, after a one-point upset over the number 7 team in the nation, or Syracuse, overcoming a huge deficit to come back and top a solid opponent?
Syracuse fans won’t like it but the answer has got to be Duke here. This is a team that was struggling all year, they lose a guy that’s supposed to be one of their saving graces, and start to perform like an entirely different squad. SU’s comeback win is great, but for Duke an upset over Virginia is HUGE.