Syracuse travels to North Carolina to play Duke on Monday at 7 p.m. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Saugat Sen and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
WES CHENG (Season Record: 3-1): Duke has four players projected to be taken in the first round in the 2019 NBA Draft, and if things continue to go the same way, three picks in the top 10.
The freshman class of Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones may go down as one of the best classes in college history. Williamson and Barrett have grabbed all the headlines so far, each averaging over 20 points.
Williamson is clearly the gem of the group, having already drawn comparisons to Charles Barkley and Blake Griffin. Listed at 6-foot-7 and a bruising 285 pounds, he’s got plenty of athleticism to boot. But of course, Reddish played a huge role, hitting a game winning 3 as Duke edged Florida State over the weekend.
All four have played major roles in Duke’s domination of the competition they’ve faced so far, save for a two-point loss to Gonzaga where the Bulldogs absolutely shot the lights out (over 50 percent from the field and from 3).
It will take that kind of offensive fluidity for the Orange to have a chance in this one. Though the Orange has looked better since Marek Dolezaj has joined the starting lineup at center, it’s scary to think what will happen when Dolezaj (6-9, 180 pounds) attempts to body up against Williamson.
Expect the Orange to stay competitive mostly through the first half before losing contact midway through the second. Duke simply has too many offensive weapons for Syracuse to pull the upset at Cameron Indoor, in what will be a 87-74 win for Duke.
SAUGAT SEN: Up next on the schedule will be the two winningest college coaches of all time, and depending on who you ask, the only two men’s college coaches with over 1,000 wins. No matter how you count it, Duke, Syracuse has turned into a bit of a rivalry.
In their short ACC history, Duke leads the regular season matchups 4-3. The last time these two teams met, it was a memorable matchup coming in the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 last season, one that the Orange lost in the last few minutes to the second-seeded Blue Devils.
Although Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter have moved on, this Duke team is reloaded with even more talent, namely projected lottery picks Zion Williams, RJ Barrett and Cameron Reddish. The trio, led by Williamson, have become a main stay on late night sports highlight reels and are undefeated at home.
This Duke team loves to pound it inside with the 6-foot-7 285-pound Williamson. It will be interesting to see how long Beoehim stays with all 180 pounds of Marek Dolezaj at center. If it is any longer than a few minutes, Dolezaj will likely end up on a poster.
It is a tall task for any team to walk into Cameron Indoor Stadium and even stand a chance.
However, this Duke team leads the ACC in points per game while Syracuse is ranked last. The Orange will have to play their best game to keep it close.
The crowd, the Duke talent, and a lack of toughness down low will keep this game away from Syracuse resulting in a 84-70 loss.