Date and Time: Wednesday, February 22nd, 2014 7:00 PM EST on ESPN

Game Line: Duke -6 (from JustBet)

Saturday NCAABB analysis: Two of the top teams in the ACC clash as the top ranked Syracuse Orange travels to Durham, NC to take on the Duke Blue Devils.

The Duke Blue Devils (21-6) are coming off of a 74-66 loss at the hands of rival North Carolina, that loss snapped a 4 game winning streak. Freshman forward Jabari Parker leads the team in scoring and rebounding averaging 19.1 ppg and 8.8 rpg, As a team Duke is averaging 80.6 ppg while shooting 46.8% from the field this season. They are tops in the conference in assist to turnover ratio (1.56) and excel beyond the arc, shooting 40.9% from 3 point land, also tops in the conference. They are one of the worst teams in the conference in rebounding, averaging only 34.7 rpg. They are also one of the worst defensive teams in the ACC, allowing opponents to shoot 44.9% from the field and allowing 67 ppg.

In their first year in the ACC, the Syracuse Orange (25-1) have been quite impressive. They are however coming off of their first loss of the season, a 62-59 defeat at the hands of Boston College. There’s no doubt that the Orange were looking ahead to Saturday’s contest with the Blue Devils. Senior forward C.J. Fair leads the team in scoring with 16.6 ppg. You can’t forget about freshman point guard Tyler Ennis, who has been clutch this year and is making a habit of hitting game winning buckets. Syracuse is averaging 69.6 ppg, while shooting 44.8% from the field. They have an assist to turnover ratio of 1.40, and rank 6th in the country in fewest turnovers. Defensively they are allowing 58.3 ppg while limiting opponents to 40.5% shooting. They are a feisty squad, as they lead the conference in steals, getting 8.3 per game.

These two teams met February 1st, with the Orange winning 91-89 in a classic that went into overtime. I think the loss that Syracuse suffered against Boston College will turn out to be a blessing in disguise in the long run. Going into March the pressure of going undefeated can mount, and the pressure won’t be there come tournament time. A quality team like Syracuse getting points can be tempting, but I’m laying the points with the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday. Syracuse has been struggling offensively as of late, and I think they will be running into a buzz saw when they visit Cameron Indoor. In their last 3 games, they’ve needed last second heroics against Pitt and NC State. They then suffered their first loss of the season. Now they have to go into Cameron where the atmosphere will be absolutely electric. It will be interesting to see how Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski attacks Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. Syracuse doesn’t defend the perimeter well, allowing opponents to shoot 34.3% from the field. That can’t be good as Duke is one of the top teams in the country from beyond the arc. The Blue Devils know they need this win as far as seeding for the tournament is concerned, and I think they will make a statement Saturday night with one of their best efforts this season.

Syracuse Orange vs. Duke Blue Devils Free NCAABB pick: Duke -6

Syracuse Orange vs. Duke Blue Devils Game Prediction: Duke 81 Syracuse 71


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