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Syracuse slips

Potential trouble for Syracuse is among the things 247Sports contributor Leigh Klein is watching as we head toward tournament time.

Jim Boeheim's Syracuse team is stumbling down the stretch.

Nothing Free

The Big East swan song for the Orange has hit a sour note with Syracuse having lost six of their last 11 games. The conference schedule is unforgiving in the Big East as this is a league with seven of the top 50 teams in defensive efficiency in the nation. Translation: points are generally at a premium in the Big East.

There are four key areas to generate point production and this current team’s DNA shows why they have hit such a rough skid:

1) Field Goal Percentage: 49.4 percent (No. 127 in the nation)

2) Three-Point Percentage 32.4 percent (No. 245 in the nation)

3) Offensive Rebounding Percentage 39.9 percent (No. 5 in the nation)

4) Free Throw Attempts and Conversion Percentage: 34.8 percent (No. 204 in the nation)

The Orange rely on their ability to crash the glass to offset their shooting deficiencies, however without the ability to get to the free throw line and convert, their margin for error is very slim. And come tournament time, they face well-rounded teams and if they come across a team that can rebound well, then Syracuse could be on upset alert.

The proof is in the pudding - in its last three losses, Syracuse can look directly at the foul line for the answers. Opponents shot 55 of 73 in comparison the Orange converted 21 of 31 attempts. In their last four victories Syracuse has made as many foul shots as its opponents have shot.

Moral Victory?

This weekend, Duke became the nation’s darling again. Ryan Kelly looked like Superman scoring 36 points in his first game back from a two-month layoff as Duke prevailed 79-76 over Miami.

The Blue Devils were on fire most of the night, shooting a sizzling 55.6 percent from the field and 11-for-23 for 47.8 percent from behind-the-arc. Cameron was kind to the home team on Senior Night.

Miami seemed surprised that Kelly played, repeatedly giving the 6-foot-10 senior open looks.

Miami is capable of playing much better, Duke not so much. Green and Orange won’t be easily found in the Greensboro crowd but they are the team to beat in the ACC Tournament.

Elimination Week Team To Watch: Boise State

Boise State is at UNLV Tuesday then home for San Diego State on Saturday

The Broncos don’t have a bad resume, including wins over Creighton, UNLV and San Diego State but still, the Broncos are a dark horse to gain an at-large bid. Their fate lays in their own hands with UNLV and San Diego State the remaining games on the conference slate prior to the conference tournament. Boise State’s odds to make the tournament have jumped up from 25 percent a week ago to 48 percent. The Broncos defeated UNLV in Boise earlier this season and lost a heartbreaker to the Aztecs in San Diego by one.

Leigh Klein was formerly on staff at Texas and Rhode Island and now owns Five-Star Basketball Camps, the nation’s top basketball camp. He contributes to’s coverage of college basketball. Klein can be followed at @LeighAlanKlein

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