Syracuse has surprisingly reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, relying on its zone defense to get the job done.
The opponent in the Midwest Regional semifinal on Friday night is Duke, which scrapped its man-to-man defense pretty much entirely more than a month ago and went to a zone defense.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski picked up a large portion of the pointers on the 2-3 zone set-up from Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim when they spent more than a decade together on the staff of the U.S. national team.
"We've gotten better in the zone," Krzyzewski said this week. "We've played really good defense. But it's because we're playing as one. ... In our zone, we communicate better and if you communicate better, you have a better chance of playing as one."
The teams meet in the second semifinal at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., following the Clemson-Kansas game.
Second-seeded Duke and 11th-seeded Syracuse -- both members of the Atlantic Coast Conference -- will clash for the second time this season. The Blue Devils won the first matchup 60-44 on Feb. 24 at home.
"You have to be careful not to point out too many things that happened a month ago," Krzyzewski said. "They've changed and we've changed. They're better and so are we."
That February meeting resulted in the lowest scoring output of the season for Syracuse.
"They were playing really up on us, making it hard for us to get open 3-point looks," Syracuse guard Tyus Battle said. "They made it tough on us."
Duke had a miserable outing shooting from the perimeter that night in Cameron Indoor Stadium, making 2 of 18 shots from 3-point range.
Since then, Syracuse has gone 5-2 and Duke is 4-2. Both teams exited the ACC Tournament earlier this month with losses to North Carolina.
Duke blew out NCAA Tournament opponents Iona and Rhode Island last week in Pittsburgh. Syracuse has had three games, beginning with a First Four escape against Arizona State and then narrow victories in Detroit against sixth-seeded Texas Christian and third-seeded Michigan State.
The rematch with Syracuse has several components, so Duke guard Grayson Allen said the Blue Devils won't take anything for granted.
"It helps and it hurts," Allen said of playing the Orange previously this season. "It helps because we know their personnel. But they're a different team. They're a better team. Their guys are playing with more confidence."