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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, February 27, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Syracuse visits Duke early Saturday afternoon, fresh off a big road upset of #9 Notre Dame. Those of you who follow college basketball know that the Orange has already kicked themselves out of the postseason in advance of potential issues with the NCAA. Will Saturday’s revenge trip to Duke continue an “us against the world” string of upsets?

Still ahead for Syracuse:

Saturday: at #4 Duke

Monday: vs. #2 Virginia

March 7: at Dance-contender NC State

And…that’s it! No ACC tournament the following week. No worries about being a bubble team sweating the NCAA’s or the NIT (Syracuse would be right on the bubble right now if eligible). Three more really big games before the season ends.

The Orange certainly played with alacrity in South Bend. They jumped ahead early and showed no interest in blowing their lead. Duke, on the other hand, played without much defensive intensity at all in a near-stunner at Virginia Tech. The Hokies were down around #200 in the country at tipoff…and took the Blue Devils to overtime!

If Duke has started worrying about the postseason too early…right as Syracuse is peaking knowing that their season is about to end…things could get very interesting in Durham in this early Saturday tip. Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about the matchup…


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Syracuse: 104.8 per 100 possessions (#109 in the nation)

Duke: 122.1 per 100 possessions (#1 in the nation)

Even off the overtime result, Duke remains the best team in the COUNTRY at per-possession efficiency after you adjust for tempo and schedule strength (according to college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy). They actually had a stellar offensive game in Blacksburg. It was their defense that made the game so close. They allowed way too many open looks on treys, and were slow to rotate off penetration. Syracuse has one of those offenses that looks great about once every four-or-five games. Can they score enough to earn an upset two games in a row? Will it matter that they rank so poorly if the Duke defense barely shows up again?


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Syracuse: 94.1 per 100 possessions (#38 in the nation)

Duke: 97.3 per 100 possessions (#81 in the nation)

The Syracuse zone has befuddled many an opposing offense. Though, this particular unit isn’t as scary as some of their other recent lineups. Duke’s defense fell out of the top 80 with that HORRIBLE performance (in context) at Tech. They once again look very much like a team that could lose to Lehigh or Mercer in the first round rather than one who could go the distance. Yes, they can beat anybody on any given night. And, they’ll get a favorable draw with a #1 or #2 seed. They had favorable draws when they lost to Lehigh and Mercer! This team always has a surprisingly small margin for error (which ESPN rarely talks about because they can’t stop hyping Coach K!).


Pace Ranking

Syracuse: #88

Duke: #64

Both teams are faster than average. That should make for entertaining basketball. It’s surprising Syracuse plays so fast with a zone defense. That means teams are attacking it well rather than just throwing the ball around the perimeter hoping that something opens up. This could matter Saturday because Duke just won at Syracuse recently. They won’t be phased by the zone in the manner that a “first look” team might be.


Against the Spread

Syracuse: 9-15-1

Duke: 14-13-1

Well…you can figure out that Syracuse was 8-15-1 ATS before the upset of Notre Dame. They’ve been one of the most overrated teams in the nation. Has the line adjusted too far before this final blast of 2014-15 action? Duke is in bounce-back mode even though they didn’t lose outright at Tech. They were surely embarrassed by their performance, and will likely bring more defensive energy.

It’s too early now to know if Syracuse/Duke will show up on NETWORK’S official slate. There are a lot of great games Saturday in the early and late sessions. We’ll be previewing “the game of the year” in the Pac 12 (Arizona at Utah) the next time we’re together. Build your bankrolls for a huge weekend with Friday Night NBA…then purchase the final word for Saturday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours Friday or Saturday before the early games tip off.

The major conferences have scheduled some blockbusters for the final week of regular season action. Here’s the NOTEBOOK schedule for this closing salvo…

Saturday: College Basketball…Arizona at Utah in the Pac 12

Sunday: College Basketball…Michigan State at Wisconsin in the Big 10

Monday: College Basketball…Oklahoma at Iowa State in the Big 12

Tuesday: College Basketball…Kentucky at Georgia in the SEC

Wednesday: College Basketball…Notre Dame at Louisville in the ACC

Thursday: College Basketball…Wisconsin at Minnesota in the Big 10

Friday: Early Look…Kansas at Oklahoma in the Big 12

Saturday 3/7: College Basketball…choosing from Duke/North Carolina or Virginia/Louisville.

Sunday 3/8: College Basketball…Wisconsin at Ohio State in the Big 10

What a brutal stretch for Wisconsin! Are they running into a buzzsaw at just the wrong time? Oklahoma has some work to do with Iowa State and Kansas. It’s one of the biggest weeks of the calendar year in sports betting. THE MAN WITH THE WINNERS IS JIM HURLEY!


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