Orange Fizz


Syracuse Must Play an “A” Game to Beat Duke

The most one-sided rivalry in the ACC returns to Central New York this weekend, as Duke, whose fans do not care much about Syracuse, travels to the Dome to face the Orange, whose fans are obsessed with the Blue Devils. Especially with Coach K now gone, this “rivalry” has never been deader, especially with the fact that Duke has beaten SU seven straight times and nine out of the last ten.

The Blue Devils haven’t had their greatest season under first-year head coach Jon Scheyer, at 18-8 overall, and tied with the Orange at 9-6 in the conference. But, the talent is there for Duke to make a run. According to 247 Sports, Scheyer brought in the number one overall recruiting class in 2022 with the second (Dereck Lively), third (Dariq Whitehead), and fourth (Kyle Filipowski) players in the class. Interestingly, Filipowski might be the best of all of them, averaging over 15 points per game as a true seven-foot stretch big man. He can shoot, drive, pass, play good defense, and is very athletic for someone his size.

At this point, Filipowski and Judah Mintz are the two clear-cut frontrunners for ACC Rookie of the Year, an award that a Duke player has won four of the last five seasons, and seven out of nine. That’s a good indicator of the talent the Blue Devils have brought in over the past decade (which has resulted in just one final four since 2015). Specifically, in the last four recruiting cycles, Duke has brought in a top-6 class each year per 247, while Syracuse hasn’t had a class ranked in the top 20.

The Orange have talent but compared to the Blue Devils, even a flawed Duke team still has an edge over Syracuse. Yes, most of them have never played in the Dome before, but too much has to go right for Syracuse, and the margin for error for Duke is too high for this to end other than a Blue Devils win in the JMA Dome. Duke can play a “C” game and still squeak out a win purely based on talent, SU does not have that luxury, and must play at an “A” level to get its fourth straight win this month.

The Orange barely got by an NC State team on Tuesday that despite being ranked, is flawed. Duke narrowly escaped a bad Notre Dame team, so each of these teams is coming into this game off of wins, albeit close ones. It’ll likely be the biggest crowd of the season for the Orange, who have not had a Saturday home game since mid-January (thanks ACC schedulers), maybe part of the reason attendance is at a 20-year low (or maybe the product on the court isn’t that good).

Without a doubt, it’ll be a fun atmosphere on Saturday night, the legendary Dick Vitale will be courtside, and Syracuse’s players will be pumped up for a big Saturday night game. It’s about if the Orange can absorb the moment and not let it overwhelm them to put out that “A” performance, and take down a Duke squad that out-talents them in most ways.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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