Duke vs. Syracuse Preview & Predictions - Can it Live Up to the Hype Again?

Last time these two teams met, college basketball fans were treated to what has probably been the best game of the season thus far, both in level of play and the closeness of the game.

However, this time around, both teams are coming off of disappointing losses - Duke to rival UNC, and Syracuse slipping for the first time this season to Boston College (at home!! How does that happen???).

Syracuse is looking to maintain their spot atop the ACC standings (tied with UVA for first), while Duke is looking to avoid falling to fifth.

Plenty is on the line, and that doesn't even include this being the Orange's first ever trip into Cameron Indoor, where the Crazies are hoping to give Syracuse their official ACC initiation.

For more on what this game means and the developing rivalry between Duke and Syracuse, check out our roundtable preview.

Projected starting lineups

#5 Duke (21-6, 10-4)

G Rasheed Sulaimon, So., 9.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg

G Tyler Thornton, Sr., 3.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg

F Rodney Hood, R-So. 16.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg

F Jabari Parker, Fr., 19.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg

F Amile Jefferson, So. 6.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg

#1 Syracuse (25-1, 12-1 ACC)

G Tyler Ennis, Fr., 11.8 ppg, 5.7 apg

G Trevor Cooney, R-So., 13.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg

F C.J. Fair, Sr., 16.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg

F Jerami Grant, So., 12.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg

C Rakeem Christmas, Jr., 6.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg

What to watch for:

Foul Trouble

In their last matchup, both Jabari Parker and Amile Jefferson fouled out for Duke before the end of regulation, allowing Syracuse to have anything they wanted to inside in overtime. Foul trouble played a key role in how Coach K had to dictate minutes in game one, which kept the Blue Devils from playing the way they wanted to.

Jim Boeheim doesn't have a deep bench, so if anyone in the starting lineup were to get into foul trouble, someone would be playing major minutes for the Orange that isn't used to getting on the floor.

Staying out of foul trouble won't necessarily give either team an upper hand, but it will give someone a major disadvantage if they fall into it.

Fatigue Factor

This will be Duke's third game in five days and fourth in the last eight - safe to say, they're a bit tired. Syracuse, on the other hand, only played once this week, but they really only go about six deep in their rotation.

That short rotation has been a factor in the Orange's play the past few weeks, as the guys on the court haven't been playing with the same intensity levels as before, either because they're trying to save their energy or their just tired.

Duke seemed to play a little tired, too, later in the game against the Tar Heels, and with this being their second big game in such a short time span, they'll be both physically and mentally fatigued.

The Devils should be able to feed off the energy from being at home, but whichever team can handle their fatigue and keep playing hard without making mistakes will be the winner.

Prediction: Duke 79-76. Syracuse has been faltering of late, and their struggles came to a head against Boston College. I think they'll turn it around and play a lot better, but Duke will come out with the intensity and aggressiveness they lacked in the second half against UNC. The Devils will play like they have something to prove, and with the game being in Cameron, I just can't see them losing. But we will be treated to another great game.

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