Notre Dame visits Duke in an ACC conference tilt. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. ESPN Big Monday Free Pick: Irish and Blue Devils UNDER 150.
The Irish aim to break a five-game skid tonight but are the unfortunate club to enter Cameron Indoor with Duke off a home loss. The aforementioned loss by the Devils and Notre Dame’s injury woes put them in a position to do little more than to avoid a Cameron blowout tonight. The Irish are dealing with injuries to Bonzie Colson, Matt Farrell and D.J. Harvey. And with that the Irish coaching staff may speak to event game-plans but in truth they are simply trying to find games in which they can compete and ultimately survive.
To Notre Dame’s defense they haven’t lost any one game during their current slide by more than 9-points. And their opponents during their recent scuffle have been against the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta and home losses to North Carolina, Louisville and Virginia Tech. In what was assumed to be a signature win early in the season, a one-point victory over ranked Wichita State, isn’t as impressive as it was back in November.
When the strength of a bad run comes via the defensive end of the floor and your are working a quick turnaround, a Saturday to Monday contest, playing at Cameron against a bigger and much more capable starting five, comprises the desire to survive.
Notre Dame is the only ACC team that plays three Saturday-Monday turnarounds with all of their Monday events on the road, tonight being the first of the three occasions.
For the Irish to compete tonight, and by compete I mean stay within double-digits of the Dukies throughout the game, they need a big defensive and offensive performance from senior center Martinas Geben. It is fair to state that Geben is having the best season of his college career. But without Colson and squaring off against a Duke team that is vastly more talented than the Irish it is safe to state that tonight is not the night that Geben steps up with a stellar performance. The matchup versus the Duke bigs doesn’t permit it.
Notre Dame doesn’t have a single go-to player due to their injured. And while Duke’s coach K is giving his starters big minutes in preparation for March the Devils top-seven are far more suited for 38 minutes of court time than that of the shorthanded Irish.
The Irish are on life support with no relief in sight. Notre Dame is without their top two scorers in Colson (21.4 PPG, 10.4 RPG) and Farrell (15.7 PPG). They can’t and will not be able to keep pace with Duke without their two best players. Hence their lone realistic chance of competing tonight is by slowing the pace and defending to the degree that Duke has an off-night with their shot selections.
The Irish coaching staff wholeheartedly learned on Saturday that they cannot get into a shootout with any team, especially the Blue Devils. Notre Dame is coming off an up and down the court event at home in which they allowed 80 points to Virginia Tech.
The lack of scoring threats among the healthy Irish and the understanding that the player personnel for Notre Dame can not engage in an up-tempo affair with the Devils favors an UNDER the TOTAL play tonight in Durham.
ESPN Big Monday Free Pick: Irish and Blue Devils UNDER 150
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