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ACC rivals Duke, Syracuse to match 2-3 zones in Midwest semi

March 22, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — No. 2 seed Duke (28-7) vs. No. 11 seed Syracuse (23-13)

Midwest Region semifinal; Omaha, Nebraska; Friday, 10:30 p.m. EDT.

BOTTOM LINE: Duke has been at its best in rolling to first- and second-round wins over Iona and Rhode Island. Now the 85-points-per-game Blue Devils go against an ACC rival that has held three straight opponents to 60 or less after coming out of the First Four in Dayton.

ZONE VS. ZONE: It’s a rare meeting of two teams that play zone defenses. The 2-3 long has been Syracuse’s staple under Jim Boeheim. The Blue Devils went to the 2-3 in mid-February after their lineup of four freshmen and one senior struggled defensively.

LAST TIME: Duke won the regular-season meeting 60-44 at home on Feb. 24. Hopefully this one is easier to watch. The teams combined to miss their first 24 3-pointers, and Duke didn’t reach 30 points until 13 ½ minutes remained. Duke has won six of 11 all-time meetings.

SHORT BENCH: The zone defense and slow-paced offense allow Syracuse’s starters to play almost the entire game, barring foul trouble. The Orange have three of the nation’s top six players in minutes logged. Tyus Battle ranks first with an average of 38 minutes, 58 seconds per game; Frank Howard is second at 38:25 and Oshae Brissett is sixth at 38:05.

DID YOU KNOW: The game matches the Nos. 1 and 2 active wins leaders in Division I. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski has 1,099 wins and Syracuse’s Boeheim has 926.


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