As Duke gets set to travel to Syracuse, the Blue Zone gives you three keys to Saturday night's game against the Orange:
Be ready for a chess match
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim ranks among the greats of college basketball coaches, only trailing Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski in total wins. Despite the Blue Devils facing their fair share of talented coaches this season, there is no doubt that Boeheim is in a different class. The younger Blue Devils need to be prepared for an mentally-demanding game unlike any other that they have played this season.
Krzyzewski and Boeheim, both former USA Olympic basketball coaches, will be tirelessly scheming to give their squad the upper hand, and raw talent will not be enough for the Blue Devils to reign victorious in this one. Every Duke player on the court is going to need to be sharp between the ears and maintain that focus for all 40 minutes.
Take care of the two-headed monster
Sophomore guard Buddy Boeheim and redshirt junior forward Elijah Hughes both rank in the top-5 in the ACC for points per game. Both can score from all three levels and have no problem creating their own shots. Buddy, the son of coach Boeheim, stands at 6-foot-6, several inches taller than Duke guards Tre Jones and Jordan Goldwire. The Blue Devils' backcourt is known for their excellent on-ball defense, so it will be interesting to see how Boeheim fares. Hughes will be chased around by Cassius Stanley the whole night, a matchup that any basketball enthusiast would love to see between the two showstoppers.
The way the Blue Devils deal with Hughes and Boeheim will play a huge role in determining the outcome of this game.
Expect the Orange to be sour
The Orange were riding a 5-game conference winning streak before losing a nail-biter to Clemson via a last second bucket. There is no doubt that Hughes and company will be looking to stun the Blue Devils and snag an upset victory. Duke has made a habit of starting slow out of the gates, something that has come back to bite them in matchups against talented, well-coached opponents like Louisville. While the Orange may not be the same caliber as the Cardinals, this is the perfect opportunity for the Orange to secure a foothold as an upper crust ACC team at home.
The Blue Devils need to ensure that they do not dig themselves into an insurmountable hole early to avoid their third ACC loss.
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