Men's Basketball

Beat writers pick Duke to beat Syracuse in semifinals, win ACC tournament

Beat writers Stephen Bailey, Trevor Hass and David Wilson offer their predictions for the ACC tournament.

Stephen Bailey
ACC tournament champion: Duke
Syracuse’s finish: Loss to Duke in semifinals

While there have been plenty of surprises in the regular season, I don’t expect many in the conference tournament. The top four seeds have a clear leg up on the rest of the group — especially considering how well North Carolina and Duke play historically on Tobacco Road — and aside from Pittsburgh, no other team is capable of knocking off more than one Atlantic Coast Conference power. I think Syracuse could beat the Blue Devils again if Trevor Cooney is clicking, and if Jerami Grant is healthy. But even with the recent late-game collapse against Wake Forest, I’ll take Duke to win the tournament based on scoring ability, depth and a hunch that Jabari Parker is about to tear it up this March.

 

Trevor Hass
ACC tournament champion: Duke
Syracuse’s finish: Loss to Duke in semifinals

If all goes according to script, Syracuse and Duke will get the rubber match everyone’s wanted since the the chaos that ensued at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Orange should be able to sneak by North Carolina State, a team that gave it a run for its money at the Carrier Dome a few weeks ago. I usually don’t like to place too much stock on one game, but I think it’s safe to say SU is playing better basketball after its 74-58 win over Florida State. If Syracuse can shut down the ACC’s leading scorer and conference Player of the Year T.J. Warren, it’ll be in the semis just like that. If it gets there, I really do think Duke takes round three. The Blue Devils have so many weapons that can hurt the opposition from downtown, and Parker’s getting better every game. He torched North Carolina for a career-high 30 on Saturday, and has a chance to feast on the Orange from the high post. It’ll be a close game, but Duke pulls it out. From there, the Blue Devils outlast North Carolina or Virginia in the championship to claim their 20th ACC title.

 

David Wilson
ACC tournament champion: Duke
Syracuse’s finish: Loss to Duke in semifinals

With Jerami Grant back, the Orange is poised to make a run — and maybe it will, but if there’s anything to know about the ACC Tournament it’s that the Blue Devils and North Carolina take it very seriously. SU has a reputation — deserved or not — of flaming out in conference tournaments and a meeting with Duke on what is essentially the Blue Devils’ home court will be tough.

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