Scouting Duke-Syracuse

Keys to victory in Saturday night's showdown between elite programs

Updated: January 31, 2014, 2:19 PM ET
By Seth Greenberg and Bruce Pearl | ESPN Insider

Krzyzewski & SulaimonGrant Halverson/Getty ImagesMike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils will take on the Syracuse Orange on Saturday night.

With Saturday's highly anticipated matchup between the Syracuse Orange and Duke Blue Devils (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) fast approaching, we asked former coaches Seth Greenberg and Bruce Pearl to break it all down. Each provided a scouting report on the biggest keys for both sides of the ball, with Greenberg taking the role of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and Pearl the role of the Blue Devils' Mike Krzyzewski.


How Syracuse can beat Duke (by Seth Greenberg)


1. Execute against Duke's improved defense

Duke has improved significantly on defense. In the Blue Devils' past five games, they have allowed 10.5 fewer points per game than in their first 16 games, holding opponents to 42.4 percent shooting from the field. Duke also has forced 13.4 turnovers per game. Krzyzewski's team is putting more pressure on the ball and is more alert off the ball, improving most on its ball-screen coverage. Sophomore forward Amile Jefferson and sophomore center Marshall Plumlee are doing an excellent job of arriving with the screen and either hard-hedging or "blitzing" the ball screen. This, in essence, blows up the ball-screen action.

Bruce Pearl

ESPN College Basketball analyst
• Joined ESPN as a college basketball analyst in 2012
• Former head coach at Southern Indiana, Milwaukee and Tennessee