Great games happen frequently with 200+ competitive Division I programs scattered across the nation. But it takes a special set of circumstances for a game to transcend greatness and become an instant classic. Expectations were as high as they can really get when Duke came to Syracuse to break ground in the new ACC rivalry. And the February 1 spectacle still managed to exceed anyone’s wildest dreams. Now, both teams are in the top-5 but coming off mid-week losses ahead of their second clash – this time at Cameron Stadium. The Dukies are giving six points on their home floor.
The public is really beginning to question how good this Syracuse team actually is. Despite just one loss, the Orange has played in a bevy of nail-biters. SU has played six games in February and all but one were decided by six points or less. But the loss could do wonders for a team that will come to Cameron focused, ready and hungry to sweep the season series with its newest rival. The key will be the health of Baye Keita. The senior center is one of the most under appreciated players in the nation as a dominant defender and leader coming off the bench. Keita missed the last two games for Syracuse before playing two minutes against Boston College. Keita is reportedly healthy and will play. His effectiveness will carry a lot of weight in a matchup that saw 180 points in the last matchup.
Duke was playing great basketball before a road loss to arch rival North Carolina on Thursday. The Blue Devils had worked all the way up to fifth in the country with four straight victories. Now, Duke must collect itself for the third game of the week. The key will, once again, be outside shooting. The Blue Devils made 15 in their first go-around with Duke and will need similar production on their home floor against the 2-3 zone. The good news is that their defense can really only improve on a performance that saw Syracuse put up 91 in the Carrier Dome.
This game should be much more low-scoring than the first matchup and because of that it seems like a good spot to take the points. Syracuse should be the slightly more motivated bunch here and it will be tough for Duke to knock down 15 three’s again. Take the points.
Free Pick: Syracuse +6