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Saturday Hoops Action: ACC Battle in Syracuse, Kansas vs. Texas and Wisconsin vs.Ohio State

It’s February 1 and that means the last full month of conference play for Men’s NCAA basketball. This weekend again will provide a schedule full of competitive games and Saturday’s Game of the Day comes from the ACC: No. 17 Duke (17-4,6-2) at No. 2 Syracuse (20-0, 7-0) at 6:30 p.m. ET.

This has been one of the season’s most anticipated games. Duke hasn’t always played up to its expectations but the team appeared to hit its stride in Monday’s game against Pitt. In an 80-65 win, the Blue Devils dominated in the game’s second half, representing possibly their best 20 minutes of play to date. For the night, the team hit 13 of 25 3-pointers.

Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker

Duke has won five straight games and will enter the raucous Carrier Dome with a lot of confidence. It will bring freshman phenom Jabari Parker, who is averaging over his last four games, 18.8 points per game and 8.1 rebounds–No. 3 in each for the ACC. He likes to hit his shots in the paint with 67 percent of them coming from there during this time.

Syracuse has its own top freshman, Tyler Ennis. He is No. 5 nationally for his assist-to-turnover ratio and is averaging per game, 12.3 points, 5.4 assists and 2.5 steals, according to ESPN Stats & Research. In a game’s last five minutes, he rises to the occasion as he has 14 assists to zero turnovers. This is a good thing as Syracuse has either been tied or behind at the five-minute mark for a game’s second half in five games during this season; this includes two of its last three.

The Orange, while undefeated, are coming off a Wednesday 67-57 win over Wake Forest but it was game with cold shooting: 36 percent and one third of 33 free throws had been missed. Trevor Cooney again had an off night, going 0 for 5 in 3-pointers.

In addition to the historical success of these two teams and their two freshmen, there’s also the storyline of their two revered coaches. Between the two, they have a combined 1,941 wins with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski at 974 and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim at 940. This represents the top two all-time for Division I hoops.

And the two coaches are also good friends and colleagues as they have coached the U.S. Men’s Basketball Olympic team together, winning two gold medals.

The usually modest Boeheim said of Saturday’s game via the Associated Press, “I’ve coached 1,000 games. That’s too many games to get excited about one game. It’s a 31-game regular season and every game is important, every game counts the same, and you have to approach it that way.”

It’s hard to bet against either team or coach but Vegas gives the winning nod to Syracuse (-3, 135 u).

Other Saturday games…

No. 6 Kansas (16-4) at No. 25 Texas (16-4) 4 p.m. ET

Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins

Yet for another team, a freshman is the face of it and for Kansas (16-4, 7-0), this is Andrew Wiggins. The player is coming off his best game of the season from Wednesday’s 92-81 win over No. 16 Iowa State. He had a career-high 29 points (10-for-16 shooting) and seven rebounds. On Saturday, he’ll go up an older and fast Texas (16-4,5-2) team, who has won five straight (three against ranked teams).

Kansas gets the win (-4, 150 o)

No. 24 Ohio State (16-5) at No. 14 Wisconsin (17-4) Noon ET

This game may be called the Battle of Two Slumping Teams as both had once been ranked in the top five. Those days are gone and in their Wednesday night games, they both again underachieved on their home courts. Ohio State (16-5, 3-5) lost to Penn State, 71-70 and Northwestern beat Wisconsin (17-4, 4-4), 65-56. Combined, these teams have lost their last 9 of 11 games.

What can transpire for these teams to have a turnaround?

For this week, the Badgers may have an advantage playing on their home court. Vegas agrees and gives them a win (-5, 129 u).



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