Meeting for the third time with a 1-1 record on the year, the Duke Blue Devils and Syracuse Orange do battle for likely the final time this year in the ACC tournament. Duke has freshman phenom Zion Williamson back in the lineup and his presence causes a big problem for the vaunted Orange 2-3 defense.
Despite Zion Williamson’s presence being back in the lineup, Syracuse actually beat Duke with Williamson and lost to him without. Duke was incredibly short-handed in that matchup down Cam Reddish, to begin with, and having Tre Jones go down early with an injury as well. That shouldn’t discredit the job Syracuse was able to do as Williamson was essentially built in a lab to bust the 2-3 zone and they still found a way to win with him in the lineup.
Duke is going to be without Marquese Bolden, which may cause a bit of a problem down low against Syracuse big man Paschal Chukwu. Chukwu has been inconsistent during his collegiate career but is playing some of the best basketball of his career and was a block machine in their ACC tournament win over Pitt. Syracuse will almost certainly need another big effort from Chukwu in order to hang with this ultra-talented Duke team.
Duke Blue Devils vs Syracuse Orange Betting Line & Odds
(All Lines/Odds Courtesy of Oddsshark)
- Duke Blue Devils (26-5) vs Syracuse Orange (20-12)
- Thursday, March 14th at 9:00 pm ET
- Point Spread: Duke Blue Devils (-11.5)
- Point Total: (144)
Duke vs Syracuse Prediction & Pick
Duke is the heavy favorite and rightfully so, however, the line has moved up a full point from the opening mark of 10.5 as the nation puts heavy money onto Duke with Zion Williamson back in the lineup alongside the rest of Duke’s high profile freshman. However, the loss of Marquese Bolden has slipped under the radar and his contributions to the team were extremely important.
Bolden and his sturdy 6’11”, 250-pound frame gave Duke a reliable big body down low capable of sending back shots. As a junior, Bolden brought a level of tournament experience to the freshman-heavy Blue Devils that would have further proved invaluable come postseason play.
Duke is undoubtedly the more talented basketball team, but Syracuse has shown the ability to not only cover this point spread in their previous matchups but outright win one. Zion is a problem for the 2-3 zone, but Duke struggles to hit the open three-pointer. The key to beating the Syracuse 2-3 zone is to collapse the defense and pass to the open man behind the three-point line. Although Zion will undoubtedly collapse the zone and get his teammates open looks, Duke doesn’t hit them at an efficient enough clip to really pull away from Syracuse.
Don’t expect Syracuse to come out and beat Duke a second time on the year, but expect them to play with enough energy to make the game ugly and keep things close en route to a cover.
Pick: Syracuse Orange (+11.5)