(10) Notre Dame Fighting Irish at (4) Duke Blue Devils (-9, 154 o/u)
A heavyweight ACC tilt is on tap for this afternoon as the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils (19-3, 6-3 ACC) host the No. 10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (21-3, 9-2 ACC) at Cameron Indoor Stadium (1:00 p.m. Eastern).
Duke had a (rare) rough start to its ACC schedule, losing two of its first four conference games. But Mike Krzyzewski’s squad has gone 4-1 since that time and handed the previously unbeaten Virginia Cavaliers their first loss of the season last weekend (69-63).
The Blue Devils trailed the Cavaliers late in the fourth, but guard Quinn Cook heated up down the stretch to lead Duke to an impressive road win. The team followed that up with a 72-66 win over Georgia Tech on Wednesday. Cook again led the way with 17 points, all of which came in the second half.
Coach Krzyzewski was just happy to come out with a win against the Yellow Jackets, knowing the emotional come-down that would inevitably beset his team after the Virginia game.
“That’s a huge win, and now you’ve got to do it again,” Krzyzewski said. “I didn’t think we were emotionally at the level we needed to be, no matter what we did. Not that our kids weren’t ready to play, but we could not get that level of emotion.”
Today, Duke will be facing a Notre Dame team that has won 17 of its last 19 games. The Irish’s 9-2 ACC record is good enough for second in the conference, just behind 8-1 Virginia.
Notre Dame was responsible for Duke’s last loss – a narrow 77-73 victory in late January in South Bend. But the team couldn’t keep the momentum going, dropping their very next game to an unranked Pittsburgh Panthers squad (76-72).
The Irish bounced back from that loss with a win over the Boston College Eagles (71-63) in their last outing. Notre Dame led by as many as 25 in the first half, but had to hold off a furious Eagles comeback to hang on for the eight-point win.
“It got to 25 so fast, you worry about concentration and focus a little bit,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “Then the guy throws in a half-court shot at halftime and I’m thinking … but I never expect a league game to be easy.”
Notre Dame is 5-10 SU in its last 15 road games, while Duke is 13-1 SU in its last 14 at home. Though the Irish have won two of the last three in the series, the trends favor taking the Blue Devils and laying the points (-9).
(Photo credit: Bryan Horowitz (flick) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo may appear cropped.)