On Tuesday, the Blue Devils will open ACC Tournament play against Syracuse, in the teams' third matchup of the season. The Blue Zone looks at a key player for each team: 

Duke: Forward Zion Williamson 

The pressure on Duke’s equipment manager to choose the right pair of shoes must be unimaginable. After he puts the sneakers through their paces and a couple of structural engineers give them the okay, freshman forward Zion Williamson will be rebooted and all tanked up for the Blue Devils’ first game of the ACC tournament. In all likelihood, Zion will take the floor Thursday for the first time since blowing out his shoe Feb. 20.

Before Williamson resumes hospitalizing rims, though, his smarts will be called upon again. The 18-year-old has played the pivotal high post role against 2-3 zones this season and if healthy, he will return there. Syracuse, typically cited as the exemplar of the 2-3 zone, started leaking points to 14th-seeded Pittsburgh Wednesday night. The Panthers’ Jared Wilson-Frame nearly tied a tournament record, nailing eight triples, and the Orange ignored baseline runners early, leading to point-blank layups. The burden of distributing the ball to shooters beyond the arc or lobbing it to Javin DeLaurier behind the zone falls to Williamson. The head on his massive shoulders will certainly be hard at work in Charlotte.

But Williamson’s physique is much more entertaining. Williamson, whose muscles have muscles, is a monster truck. Syracuse forward Marek Dolezaj, his foil, compares better to a chain of motorcycles that are roped together—long and lean, quite fast and very easy to topple. Williamson looks like he ate all of Dolezaj’s muscles as a midnight snack; Dolezaj looks like he hasn’t eaten well in weeks. If we’re lucky, we’ll get a rehash of this fun moment from their first meeting:

Williamson may have a minutes restriction for Thursday’s game, but as long as that restriction is above zero, his presence will answer many prayers.

Syracuse: Center Paschal Chukwu 

Thursday evening likely presents as the finale to the Duke-Syracuse trilogy this season. And, for the Orange, chances are that first time is the charm—not the third. But if Syracuse does manage a repeat victory against the Blue Devils, you can thank 7-foot-2 leviathan Paschal Chukwu.

Who is this man? He can’t shoot, dribble, pass or see very well. He does not run remarkably fast for a big man, and he commits a lot of fouls. Yet, Chukwu’s height alone deters almost every shot from inside the painted area. His six blocks against Pittsburgh Wednesday forced the Panthers to resign themselves to live and die by the three-pointer. Spoiler alert: they died.

For the slashing Blue Devil freshmen, Chukwu appears bad, bad news. The absence of Duke center Marques Bolden due to his MCL sprain doesn’t help. No player—not even Williamson—can elevate over him for rebounds. In the Orange’s win against Duke, Chukwu pulled down 18 boards. His shot-influencing ability also led to the Blue Devils chucking up a season-high 43 treys, of which they converted on just nine.

The solution, ironically, may include attacking the center early and often. For all of Chukwu’s height, he lacks in shot-blocking ability, and a few lobs may dispirit him. Furthermore, foul trouble will relegate Chukwu to a seat on the bench, where he is considerably shorter.