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No. 2 Syracuse hosts No. 17 Duke on Saturday
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 2/1/2014  at  5:42:00 AM
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Carrier Dome - Syracuse, NY
Tip-off: Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET
Line: Syracuse -2.5

Anticipating a record crowd at the Carrier Dome, No. 2 Syracuse will host No. 17 Duke on Saturday night in a matchup between two legendary coaches squaring off for the first time ever as conference foes.

Dukeís Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuseís Jim Boeheim have coached against each other only twice, the last coming in the 1998 NCAA Tournament when the Blue Devils prevailed 80-67. This season, the Orange have yet to lose despite some close calls, and have now covered in six consecutive games. They are 12-4 ATS overall (6-1 ATS in ACC) with a 5-3 ATS record at home. The Blue Devils initially struggled in conference play with bad road losses to Notre Dame and Clemson, but since then they have rattled off five consecutive wins. They have also covered in four straight, including their impressive road win on Monday against No. 18 Pittsburgh. Duke is 13-8 ATS overall (5-3 ATS in ACC) and 2-2 ATS on the road this season.

Can Duke hand Syracuse its first loss of the season? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 60% ATS (186-123-5) mark, including a stellar 64% ATS (154-88) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 65% ATS (40-22-2) in Best Bets for the season and 69% ATS (33-15-1) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 62% ATS (39-24-1) for the season and 71% ATS (22-9) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Scott is a hefty 60% ATS (38-25-1) for the season and 64% ATS (28-16-1) since Dec. 2. StatFox Zach is a strong 59% ATS (36-25-2) on Best Bets this season, including 63% ATS (30-18-1) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Gary is 55% ATS (33-27-2) for the season, and 60% ATS (27-18) since Nov. 29.

The Blue Devils rank 20th in the nation with 81.5 PPG, hitting 47.2% FG (51st in Div. I) and 41.4% of their threes (5th in nation). Though rebounding has been a problem at times this season with 35.4 RPG (167th in Div. I), they have outrebounded each of their past four opponents by an average of 11.3 RPG. Leading that effort has been freshman PF Jabari Parker (18.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG) who has three consecutive double-doubles, averaging 13.3 RPG in that span. Hitting more than one three-pointer per game, Parker has the size and skill to score from anywhere on the floor, much like SF Rodney Hood (17.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG), who is nailing 45% of his threes this year. PG Quinn Cook (12.4 PPG, 5.5 APG) rounds out the teamís double-digit scorers. Heís joined by some lethal shooters on the perimeter in SGs Andre Dawkins (9.4 PPG) and Rasheed Sulaimon (8.3 PPG), who are both hitting more than 46% of their treys on the season. Dawkins was on fire in Monday's win against Pittsburgh, hitting 6-of-7 from long distance en route to 20 points. The other key factor is sophomore C Amile Jefferson (6.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG), who is a rebounding machine in his 20.1 MPG.

The Syracuse offense doesnít put up gaudy numbers with 71.4 PPG (189th in Div. I) on 45.5% FG (116th in Div. I). But Boeheim makes his name for his dangerous 2-3 zone on defense that is holding teams to 57.8 PPG, the sixth fewest in the nation. A lot of that, however, is due to the teamís slow pace of play, as opponents are hitting 41% of their shots against the Orange, a figure that is good but not elite. They key for Syracuse on both sides of the ball is freshman PG Tyler Ennis (12.3 PPG, 5.4 APG) who leads the team in passing and defense with 2.5 SPG. Senior PF C.J. Fair (16.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG) is the teamís top scorer, though heís making only 28.1% of his three-point attempts this season hoisting up 2.9 per game. SF Jerami Grant (12.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG) joins him down low as the teamís top rebounder, posting a double-double in Wednesdayís win against Wake Forest. SG Trevor Cooney (13.2 PPG) is the teamís most aggressive shooter, making 40.1% of his three-pointers and putting up 7.1 per game, hitting 2.9 of them.

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