Syracuse got halfway to keeping Jim Boeheim from recording the first losing season of his career in blitzing Florida State, but the Orange now have the much more difficult task of trying to take down ACC top seed Duke. The Blue Devils are the one team that doesn’t have to worry about winning the ACC tournament, but Mike Krzyzewski has always placed a greater emphasis on winning the ACC championship than anyone else in the league and likely wants to win one more league title in his final season with Duke.
That makes this a tough task for Syracuse, which faces the added challenge of trying to hang with a team that already beat it by 25 and 20 points in their two meetings. The Orange looked outstanding against the Seminoles on Wednesday, but they’re now playing again less than 24 hours later against a rested team that’s likely anxious to get back to the floor after losing to North Carolina in its season finale. Put simply, this really isn’t a good time to play Duke.
Syracuse Orange vs. Duke Blue Devils Odds, Trends, and Picks
Opening Betting Odds and Lines
|(16-16 SU, 15-17 ATS)
||(26-5 SU, 17-12-2 ATS)
When: Noon, Thursday, March 10th
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Betting the Total
Krzyzewski has been through this before and is almost certain to tell the Blue Devils to push the tempo. When a rested team faces a lesser squad that had to play the day before, it’s almost always a good idea to push the pace and try to take advantage of them playing for the second time in as many days.
In the two regular-season meetings, Duke had no problems pushing the tempo against Syracuse, getting 63 and 65 shots from the field in the two matchups. With Syracuse possibly dealing with dead legs and getting sped up, I really don’t want to bring the Orange into the equation on the total. Instead, I’ll count on the Blue Devils to do the scoring.
I recommend backing Duke Over 81.5.
Backing the Spread
Syracuse’s zone defense is meant to keep big men from being able to control the paint. But the Orange’s zone got blown apart in the second meeting, as Mark Williams went for 28 points and Paolo Banchero scored 21 of his own. This Syracuse defense just isn’t good enough to stop a quality team on the inside, which means that Duke is likely to spend much of the game doing what it wants.
The first half might be close if Syracuse can hit its shots again, as Buddy Boeheim and Cole Swider are normally strong shooters who can change the complexion of a game. But Swider only scored two points in the second matchup with the Blue Devils, and there’s no guarantee that the way he shot against Florida State will carry over against Duke.
It’s not an easy task to beat a team three times in the same season, but none of these meetings were close and I think Duke wants to give Krzyzewski one more ACC title.
I expect this to be a fairly comfortable win, and I recommend playing Duke -14.5.