X Factor: Duke needs Gary Trent Jr. to get hot from deep to beat Syracuse zone After dominating in their first two NCAA tournament games, the second-seeded Blue Devils are heading to Omaha, Ne., to face 11th-seeded Syracuse Friday night in the Sweet 16 matchup. The Blue Zone gives a player for both teams that could be the difference in the game: Duke: Guard Gary Trent Jr. So far, Syracuse has had its way defensively in the NCAA tournament, surrendering less than 60 points in all of its three games—all close victories. Nearly a month ago, the Blue Devils barely managed to reach the 60-point margin, just hitting it in a 60-44 victory. In that game, Trent made just one of his six 3-point attempts, finishing just 2-of-11 from the field overall. To beat the vaunted Orange zone, opposing guards need to be able to make outside shots. Otherwise, the zone will collapse on the post, swallowing up potential scoring opportunities. Trent—Duke’s best 3-point shooter—is the team’s top option to do damage from beyond the arc. As the season has progressed, it is clear that the Blue Devils are nearly impossible to stop offensively when they hit their 3-pointers, and Trent is the one most capable of doing so. If the Columbus native is on, expect it to be a Sweet 16 romp for Duke. Syracuse: Center Paschal Chukwu Standing at 7-foot-2, Chukwu is the only player Syracuse can throw at the Blue Devils who is taller than their stellar frontcourt freshman duo of Wendell Carter Jr. and Marvin Bagley III. In the February matchup, though, the Orange’s starting center spent just 24 minutes on the court due to foul trouble, significantly inhibiting Syracuse’s defense. Without Chukwu bearing down in the paint, Carter and Bagley succeeded as the only Duke players to reach double-figures. Chukwu is the Orange’s leading shot-blocker—averaging more than 2.5 swats a game—and even when he misses, the junior often affects shots just due to his pure size. Against a Blue Devil offense that has dominated its two opponents, Iona and Rhode Island, in the paint, Syracuse will need Chukwu to stay out of foul trouble to keep up with Duke’s frontline. Chukwu’s size also allows him to be a force on the defense boards, which will be important in neutralizing the nation’s ninth-best offensive rebounding squad to limit its second-chance opportunities Friday.