Syracuse University expects a college basketball on-campus record 35,446 people to attend the school’s first conference basketball game against Duke tomorrow, as the Orange attempt to open a season 21-0 for the first time.
Students at the central New York school have camped out waiting for their pick of seats for most of the past two weeks in temperatures that dropped to 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 Celsius), according to its student newspaper. A sold-out crowd of 35,446 tomorrow night when the No. 2 Orange host the No. 17 Blue Devils at the Carrier Dome would break the school’s previous record of 33,015.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told reporters this week that while the team will approach the game no different from the other 30 on its schedule, there is extra energy in the Carrier Dome when more than 30,000 people attend a game.
“Those games are all exciting games and this will be an exciting game,” he said. “But we’re still going to play Monday night.”
Tomorrow night’s nationally televised game features two of the sport’s most successful programs. Duke’s 2,018 all-time wins are fourth most in college basketball’s top division; Syracuse is fifth with 1,894. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s 974 career wins are most all-time; Boeheim is second with 940.
Led by senior forward C.J. Fair and freshman guard Tyler Ennis, second-ranked Syracuse has opened the season 20-0, tying the program’s best-ever start to a season. The Orange have allowed 51.9 points per game in their first seven Atlantic Coast Conference contests, fewest in the league. Duke is 17-4 with a 6-2 conference record.
Syracuse students have camped outside the Dome in a tented community called “Boeheimburg,” a play on the tent community that Duke students named “Krzyzewskiville” after their own coach. Orange fans last camped out for the 2013 game against Georgetown, when the school set the current National Collegiate Athletic Association record for an on-campus game.
We’re going to a big-time atmosphere,’’ Duke forward Rodney Hood told reporters this week. “That what you want -- two big-time coaches, schools, programs. And we’re ready for that challenge.”
The Syracuse basketball court is in the west end zone of Carrier Dome, also the home of the school’s football team. This summer the Post-Standard reported that Syracuse was considering moving the court to the center of the stadium, which could have allowed a basketball crowd of over 50,000. The school decided against the move.
The attendance record for a college basketball game is 78,129, set at a 2003 contest between Michigan State and Kentucky at Ford Field in Detroit.
Duke has advanced to the NCAA semifinals 15 times, winning its fourth national title in 2010. Syracuse has been to five semifinals, with its only title coming in 2003.