Duke Basketball: Blue Devils Ready to Welcome Orange

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 21: Head coach David Padgett of the Louisville Cardinals reacts as Grayson Allen
DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 21: Head coach David Padgett of the Louisville Cardinals reacts as Grayson Allen /

The Duke Blue Devils are ready to put their winning streak on the line as they take on Syracuse.

With all of the controversy surrounding college basketball yesterday, in Duke’s case Wendell Carter Jr. Duke Athletic Director Kevin White said that there are “no eligibility issues” with Carter Jr.

With all signs pointing to Carter Jr. being in the lineup, our attention goes back to the availability of Marvin Bagley III.

Bagley has missed the last four games due to a knee sprain. Coach K has said that they will be careful with Bagley and take every precaution.

Coach K also said after the win over Louisville that Bagley is “day to day” and “getting closer”.

Duke, specifically Grayson Allen has been terrific without Bagley, averaging 23.7 points.

More importantly and frankly surprisingly Duke’s defense has been fantastic in Bagley’s absence due to the full commitment to the zone defense.

Duke has allowed 58.5 points per game over that stretch.

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If you are a fan of zone defenses, this matchup is for you.

Syracuse and Coach Jim Boeheim are known for his zone defense and with his good friend Coach K going to the zone this year, we should see zone defense for 40 minutes from both teams.

Syracuse is looking for their signature win to get them into the NCAA Tournament, and a win at Duke would do it for them.

The Orange had a chance to get that signature win, but couldn’t complete the comeback at home against North Carolina.

Syracuse is led by a three-headed monster of Tyus Battle, Frank Howard, and Oshae Brissett.

Battle averages 20.1 points per game. Howard and Brissett are right behind him with 15.5 and 14.8 points, respectively.

One other injury concern for the Blue Devils is Marques Bolden. Bolden had surgery to fix a broken nose on Thursday. He is not expected to miss any time, but it is worth nothing with Bagley’s status in question and despite assurance from the AD, Carter Jr.’s availability a bit of a question mark.

In a worst case scenario that neither of those three play, Duke still has the superior players and team.

I have a gut feeling that Carter Jr., Bolden, and Bagley will all suit up and Duke will run away with their fifth straight win.

Prediction: Duke 87 Syracuse 67