Featured Video from Scott Steehn
The Duke Blue Devils will begin their bid for the ACC Tournament title when they go up against the Syracuse Orange during quarterfinal action at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. on Thursday. Without Zion Williamson, Duke went just 3-3 in its final six regular-season games to settle for the No. 3 seed in the conference. The Orange advanced through their tournament opener in the second round on Wednesday, beating Pittsburgh with ease.
One of Duke’s wins during Williamson’s absence was at Syracuse, but the Orange were one of two teams to beat the Blue Devils with the potential first pick in June’s NBA Draft on the floor for the whole game. Syracuse knocked off Pittsburgh 73-59 in the second round Wednesday to set up the rubber match, but Orange leading scorer Tyus Battle (17.2 ppg) did not play against the Panthers with a hip injury and his status for the quarterfinals is uncertain. Freshman guard Buddy Boeheim, the son of coach Jim Boeheim, scored a season-high 20 on Wednesday as Syracuse rallied from a six-point halftime deficit.
Battle, a third team all-conference pick averaging 17.2 ppg, prepared to play in round two but could not go. Boeheim made 6-of-13 from the field overall in his third start to improve his season scoring average to 6.7 ppg. Junior forward Elijah Hughes (13.5 ppg) scored 18 points on Wednesday, going 5-of-9 from behind the arc after being held scoreless in the loss to Clemson. Senior guard Frank Howard scored 18 points against Pitt after managing 15 combined in the previous three contests. Sophomore forward Oshae Brissett averages 12.3 ppg after scoring only four on Wednesday and leads the team in rebounds (7.4 rpg). Senior center Paschal Chukwu, 7’2”, hauled in 18 rebounds and scored 10 in the team’s 95-91 overtime win at Duke on Jan. 14.
Here comes that man
Williamson, the ACC Player of the Year, is expected to be back in uniform after missing most of the last six games. The 6’7” freshman phenom went down in the opening minutes of a home loss to North Carolina with a knee sprain and the No. 5 Blue Devils have gone 3-3 since.
“They’ve shown that when they’re together, they’re very good,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski noted. “And we’ve been good–not real good–without Zion. The kids have fought but it’s inconsistent. It’s not the level that’s needed to win a championship…. So these guys will react quickly. It depends upon Zion, his shape. I think it will happen quick.”
1st official 2019 NPOY award just announced….
ZI🤯N WI💪💪IAMS🤯N. pic.twitter.com/JUKRPvgn0Y
— Duke Basketball (@DukeMBB) March 12, 2019
While Williamson returns to the court, another big man will be in street clothes as junior center Marques Bolden is not expected to play in the tournament after suffering a knee injury in last Saturday’s loss to North Carolina. The Blue Devils will still depend a lot on freshman guard R.J. Barrett, who leads the team in scoring (23.4 ppg) after averaging 26.2 ppg over the last six games with three double-doubles during this stretch. Freshman swingman Cam Reddish has averaged 16.3 ppg-two more than his season mark–in the last four contests.
The Duke Blue Devils are:
- 6-1 ATS in their last seven games following a loss
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven Thursday games
- 5-1 Under in their last six games against the ACC
The Syracuse Orange are:
- 0-4 ATS in their last four games following a win
- 1-4 ATS in their last five games following an ATS win
- 5-2 Under in their last seven games following a win
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Duke freshman guard Tre Jones averages 8.7 ppg (11.0 ppg in the last two outings) and tops the team with 5.3 apg. The Orange ended the regular season with four losses in five games. With Battle questionable and Williamson back for Duke, this should be one-way traffic. Syracuse won’t be able to compete with or without him.
Prediction: Duke Blue Devils -11.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Reddish is 7-of-24 from three-point range in the past three games. Duke’s interior defense stunk without Williams, but it should not get better again in a hurry. The under is 5-2 in the Orange’s last seven following a win. It is also 35-16-2 in the Blue Devils’ last 53 overall, 5-1 in their last six against the ACC, and 5-1 in their last six following a loss. Look for this one to stay under the total.