31,000 are expected to be packed into the Carrier Dome ahead of the newest installment of the Duke-Syracuse rivalry. That number will be the highest attendance for any on-campus game this season, across the entire NCAA.
This is their only scheduled meeting of the season, with Duke holding the all-time series lead 9-6. Syracuse is 4-5 against Duke in regular season conference play since the Orange joined the ACC in 2014. Last season, the teams met twice, each winning on the road. That included a historic win from Syracuse, as it was the first time a #1 ranked Duke team lost to an unranked team at home.
The 9th ranked Blue Devils (17-3, 7-2 ACC) have experienced a turbulent season, much like every team in college basketball this year. In the ACC, they’ve dropped games to Louisville and at Clemson, with their 3rd overall loss being a stunner at home against Stephen F. Austin.
However, Duke remains one of the best teams in the nation. They rank 2nd in the nation in KenPom, which is a statistic measuring overall efficiency. Led by returning guard Tre Jones and big man Vernon Carey Jr, they have the best offense in the ACC, and the 4th highest in the nation, averaging 82.7 PPG.
Syracuse had a recent 5-game winning streak recently snapped with a loss at Clemson. Prior to that, they had run off a string of road wins that suddenly gave their NCAA tournament hopes new life.
But the biggest issue for the Orange might be Coach K’s defense.
The Blue Devils have only allowed 97 made three pointers this season, far and away the best mark in the ACC. This presents an obvious issue for the sharpshooting backcourt of Boeheim and Girard, as well as leading scorer Elijah Hughes.
The country’s (possibly) most potent 3-point shooting trio will have their hands full against Duke, and the Orange aim to earn their 7th ACC win on ESPN Saturday night at 8 pm.