Syracuse and Duke will meet for the 3rd time this season in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament tonight. The teams have split the season series 1-1 thus far, each taking a game on the other’s home floor. This time around, Zion Williamson will be in the lineup for the Blue Devils, while Syracuse guard Tyus Battle may miss his second straight game due to injury. With all that being said, let’s dive into some numbers that could prove big tonight.
That’s the seed that Duke could be gunning for with an ACC Tournament championship win. With Gonzaga losing their conference championship game, there could be an opening for another ACC one seed. Also, the Devils 3-3 record without Zion Williamson could be forgiven if he balls out and the Dukies cut down the nets in Charlotte. 1 is also the ranking that Duke was the first two times these teams met. They now sit at No. 5 in the country after slipping a bit in the absence of Zion Williamson.
The number of points Duke outscored Syracuse by in the second half of their last meeting. The Orange led by 5 points at halftime and things were looking good until RJ Barrett and company took over. Barrett finished with 30 points and the Devils walked away with a 75-65 win on the road in front of the biggest on-campus crowd in college basketball history.
That’s the point production the Orange will be without if Tyus Battle is to miss a second straight game. He also scored 32 points in Cameron Indoor in the first meeting between these two teams. Syracuse will once again need some of their role players to step up if they want to keep this thing close. Last night in their 73-59 win over Pitt, Buddy Boeheim had 20 points in his first career start, while Elijah Hughes dropped in 18 on 5-9 shooting from deep. The Orange will need more production from third-leading scorer Oshae Brissett, who had a measly 4 points last night.
The percent chance given to Duke to come away with the win tonight, according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index. That number seems a bit high for two teams that have historically played very tight contests. When Syracuse plays Duke, all bets are off. We’re talking about two of the best coaches of all time in Coach K and Coach Boeheim. They know how to make adjustments and keep it close. It should be another close contest between these two teams. Don’t be surprised if Syracuse once again shocks the world.
The total number of points scored between the two teams in their first meeting. Granted, the game ended in overtime, but 95 points was Syracuse’s highest scoring outburst this season. Syracuse is averaging 69.7 points per game this season, whereas Duke is at 84.1. The Orange will look to slow the tempo down with that 2-3 Zone, and Duke will most likely try to push the pace to avoid dealing with that length.
Probably the number of times Zion Williamson will be mentioned on ESPN today. Look, we get it, the kid is unbelievable. 21.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.2 SPG, and 1.8 BPG on 68.3% shooting? Sign me up. I’m all aboard the Zion number one pick train. But can we chill for just a day? I’ve been watching the ACC Tournament all day and every other commercial and talking point seems to be about Williamson. Let’s just enjoy some college basketball for a couple of weeks.