The Blue Devils visit the Irish for an ACC tilt in South Bend, Indiana, on ESPN Big Monday. The contest is scheduled to tip-off at 7:00 p.m. ET and take place on the Purcell Pavilion court at the Joyce Center.
It is hard to imagine that the Duke Blue Devils were the AP Pre-season #1 team and Notre Dame received 6 points in the opening AP Poll which would have ranked them #44. The Irish have played better than expected and were ranked #14 last week but come into this game ranked #20. The Blue Devils meanwhile are 4-4 in ACC action and find themselves at #21. Notre Dame has won and covered three straight in this series and pulled the upset in each including knocking Duke out of the ACC Conference Tournament each of the last two seasons.
Duke started the year going 12-1 with the only blemish a November loss to Kansas. Grayson Allen was suspended for their ACC opener, a loss to Virginia Tech, and then “indefinite suspension” ended after one game but Coach K then took a leave of absence for back surgery. The Devils beat Georgia Tech and Boston College but both were at home and have gone 2-3 SU since with losses at Florida St, at Louisville and home versus NC State. After the Wolfpack loss Coach K banned his team from the locker room and wouldn’t let then wear Duke gear as he met with them last week prior to a 2-point win at Wake Forest. Luke Kennard leads the way averaging 20.4 PPG while Jayson Tatum is #2 with 15.8 PPG. Allen is #3 (15.3 PPG) with three others scoring between 8.3-12.2 PPG. Amile Jefferson leads with 9.5 rebounds/game but four others average 5 or more rebounds and six players in all average 1.8 or more assists/game.
Notre Dame opened up this season going 9-0 before loses to Villanova and Purdue and then won 7 straight including upsets at Miami and Virginia Tech. The Irish, however, have now dropped three of their last 4 including getting upset as a small home dog to Virginia and at Georgia Tech on Saturday. Balance can describe this year’s team are four players average between 14.0 and 15.5 PPG as Bonzie Colson (15.5 PPG) also leads the team in rebounding (10.6 reb/game) while PG Matt Farrell (14.0 PPG & 5.6 assists/game) is the teams leader.
Duke has my #12 offense and #37 defense compared to Notre Dame which is my #6 offense but only my #66 defense. There is value on Duke playing as they are playing with triple revenge as they still have the talent to be one of the best teams in the country. While I would still not feel comfortable backing them in a large favorite’s role I do feel comfortable calling for a win in this spot.
The Cal Sports’ Forecast for tonight’s Big Monday test offers a Free Pick on Duke with a projected outcome with a final score of Blue Devils 85 – 76 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
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