Game Preview: Notre Dame at #7 Duke
Notre Dame (15-9 / 6-7) heads to Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on the No. 7 ranked Duke Blue Devils (21-3 / 11-2).
Start Time: 4:00 PM (Eastern)
TV: ESPN (Bob Wischusen, play-by-play; Dick Vitale, analyst)
Spread: Duke -12.5
Duke began the season as the No. 4 ranked team in the preseason. The Blue Devils quickly climbed to No. 1 in the polls for two weeks before getting shocked at home by Stephen F. Austin back in November.
Duke climbed back up to No. 3 before losing back-to-back games to Clemson and Louisville. The Blue Devils bounced back with an 89-59 beatdown of Miami, which kicked off its current six-game win streak.
That streak includes Duke's miraculous comeback victory over North Carolina.
Duke's No. 2 ranked freshman class has fueled its strong 2019-20 campaign. Freshman big-man Vernon Carey Jr. leads the Blue Devils in scoring (17.5 PPG). Carey scored just 10 points in the most recent victory over Florida State, but in the four previous game he averaged 21.8 points and 11.5 rebounds. Carey has fouled out twice, including the victory over North Carolina, and he's earned four fouls in five more contests.
Sophomore point guard Tre Jones was brilliant in Duke's win at North Carolina, scoring 28 points to go with five rebounds and six assists. Jones is averaging 15.6 points per game and is second in the ACC at 6.6 assists per game.
Duke leads the ACC in scoring at 82.6 points per game, well ahead of the next best team (Louisville, 75.3 PPG). The Blue Devils are shooting 48-percent from the field this season, which also leads the ACC. Notre Dame ranks ninth in shooting (42.6%).
The Blue Devils rank second in the league in rebounds per game (39.8) and lead the lead with 5.88 blocked shots per game.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Notre Dame missed a huge opportunity to boost its NCAA Tournament resume against Virginia, dropping the game in overtime. The Irish could have sustained a loss to Duke had it beat the Cavaliers, but now the Irish are in desperation mode.
Should the Irish lose to Duke, it puts Mike Brey's squad in a situation where it has to at least go at least 5-1 in the final six games and do some damage in the conference tournament if it's going to climb into the tournament for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
An upset win over Duke would be one of the biggest road victories in Brey's career. It would provide a huge boost for the Irish tournament resume and would draw Notre Dame even in the league at 7-7.