On Saturday night, top ranked Syracuse will face fifth-ranked Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, BPI, projected that the Blue Devils have a 62 percent chance of defeating the Orange, according to Mike Wilson of ESPN.com.
This will be the team’s second meeting of the season. Their first matchup was on Feb. 1 at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y., and it so competitive that it went into overtime.
The first meeting between the Orange and the Blue Devils was highly anticipated because it was the first time both teams were in the same conference; Atlantic Coast Conference-ACC. The Orange entered the game with an undefeated record (20-0 Overall, 7-0 ACC) he Blue Devils was a little worse, (17-4 Overall, 6-2 ACC).
The Associated Press, AP, reported that the game was played in front of a record crowd of 35,446 people, according to ESPN.com. Senior forward C.J. Fair and Sophomore forward Jerami Grant combined to score 52 points to lead the Orange to a 91-89 victory.
Orange head coach Jim Boeheim told the AP succeeding the game how exciting of a game it was.
It was just a great game,” Boeheim said after career victory No. 941. “I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a better game in here where both teams played at such a high level. Both teams just went after it. We’ve had a lot of games that have been here that are great. There’s never been one as good as this one.”
Both teams are coming off recent losses to unranked teams.
The top ranked Orange lost their first game of the season (25-1, 12-1 ACC) against Boston College, 62-59 on Wednesday night at the Carrier Dome. The Eagles were much more efficient shooting the ball compared to the Orange, 42.9 to 32.3 percent.
This contributed to the Orange receiving their worst Game Score of the season, 40, according to Wilson. The Blue Devils also struggled against an unranked team earlier this week.
They faced rival North Carolina on Thursday night at Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C. The Blue Devils shot better from the field than the Orange did on Wednesday night, 42.9 percent, but it was not enough to defeat the Tar Heels.
Senior guard Leslie McDonald scored 21 points to lead the Tar Heels to a 74-66 victory over the Blue Devils. Blue Devils’ head coach Mike Krzyzewski, Coach K, told the Associated Press a reason why his team struggled against the Tar Heels, according to ESPN.com.
We looked tired or we didn’t have life,” Coach K said. “And no matter what we did in a timeout, we just didn’t have that spark — the anger, the emotion, the thing you have to have to match what their crowd, their team is doing. You have to try to counter that. And I just felt we were, we didn’t have the life that you needed to have.”
The Blue Devils’ defeat to the Tar Heels dropped them from fifth to ninth in the BPI rankings. The Orange’s BPI, fourth-best, is better than the Blue Devils this season, according to Wilson.
Despite the Orange having a better BPI and record, the BPI is projecting that the Blue Devils have a 62-percent chance of defeating them on Saturday night. It is unknown why the Blue Devils are favored to win the matchup on Saturday night, but it could be because they are the home team.
A team that the BPI has projected to win their particular game has gone on to win 73-percent of the time, according to Wilson. On Saturday night, the Orange could show why the BPI was wrong.