Syracuse vs Duke
When: 9:37 PM ET, Friday, March 23, 2018
Where: CenturyLink Center Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska
Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone has flustered opponents during this NCAA Tournament just like it seems to whenever Syracuse makes the Big Dance, but it has been Mike Krzyzewski's use of the same defense that has made Duke equally stingy. The two winningest coaches in Division I college basketball history will attempt to outwit one another yet again Friday in Omaha, Neb., as the No. 2 seed Duke meets the 11th-seeded Orange in a Sweet 16 matchup.
Krzyzewski (1,099-337) made the move to the zone as his team's primary defense 11 games ago, and the Blue Devils, who surrendered 72.8 points per game over their first 24 games, have allowed an average of 61.7 points since. Duke's defensive renaissance may been best illustrated five games after the switch as the Blue Devils held Syracuse to 31.5 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers in a 60-44 victory on Feb. 24. While Duke has won its first two NCAA Tournament games by an average of 23.5 points, the Orange has claimed their three victories - by a total of 11 points - by riding a defense that has kept each of its opponents at least 25 points below their season scoring average. Syracuse, where Boeheim has posted a 925–367 record (minus 101 vacated victories), pulled off the biggest upset of its run Sunday, forcing Michigan State to miss its final 13 shots en route to a 55-53 win.TV:
9:37 p.m. ET, CBSABOUT SYRACUSE (23-13):
Tyus Battle (1,403), Frank Howard (1,383) and Oshae Brissett (1,371) rank first, second and fourth, respectively in Division I in total minutes and are responsible for 73.2 percent of the team's offensive production this season. Battle (team-high 19.3 points) is the highest-scoring sophomore in Orange history with 693 points and has played all 40 minutes in 14 of the last 17 games, but he is shooting only 27.4 percent from the field over his last four outings. Brissett (14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds) needs 11 more points to move into fourth place on the school's freshman scoring list and has accounted for 31.6 percent of the team's points over the last four contests.
ABOUT DUKE (28-7):
ACC Player of the Year Marvin Bagley III (21.2 points, 11.3 rebounds) has tallied 22 points in each of the first two rounds, and he is shooting 67.4 percent from the floor since he returned against the Orange following a four-game absence. Fellow freshman forward Wendell Carter Jr. (13.6, 9.2) produced the last of his 15 double-doubles this season with 16 points and 10 boards last month versus Syracuse and was the only other player beside Bagley (19) to score more than 10 points in the contest. Following a month-long stretch in which he failed to reach double figures six times in 10 outings, senior guard Grayson Allen (15.6 points) is averaging 18.5 points over his last 11 games.TIP-INS
1. The winner will face either Kansas or Clemson in Omaha on Sunday for the right to advance to the Final Four.
2. The Orange rank fifth in kenpom.com's adjusted defensive efficiency rankings (92.3 points allowed per 100 possessions), while the Blue Devils rank eighth (93.3).
3. Krzyzewski on Saturday broke his tie with the late great women's basketball coach Pat Summitt (Tennessee) for the most wins by a basketball coach in NCAA history.PREDICTION:
Duke 66, Syracuse 55
Stats and Records