The ACC has some good teams this year and we’ll get to see plenty more great matchups throughout the year. On Wednesday, we get 19-2 Notre Dame hosting 17-2 Duke. Top 10 Games like this don’t happen all that often during the week, but with Four ACC teams currently in the Top 10, there will be a few more this season.
At the moment, every team is just trying to keep pace with Virginia, who is sitting undefeated with 19 wins. Unfortunately for the Irish, they already played the Cavaliers a couple weeks ago and lost on their home cOurt in a closely fought Game. Duke travels to Virginia this weekend for their only meeting of the season.
It’s been a big week for both of these teams. Not only has Duke won three straight Games, but they got Coach K his 1,000th win on Sunday. The Blue Devils are currently in a stretch of Four of five Games being on the road. After a couple slip-ups, Duke has figured things out again and have road wins at Wisconsin and Louisville already. So playing against a Top 10 team on the road isn’t something new for them.
since losing to Virginia, Notre Dame has won Four straight, three on the road, including a big comeback win at NC State on Sunday, winning in overtime. The Fighting Irish already have wins over teams like Michigan State and North Carolina, but a win over Duke would be huge for this squad.
The main issue for Notre Dame is that they don’t really have anyone to deal with freshman phenom Jahlil Okafor. Their big man Zach Auguste is a good player, but defending the 6’11” Okafor will probably be his toughest task of the season. If Auguste gets into foul trouble, that could be the end for the Irish because they aren’t a deep team and the guys off the bench aren’t going to be defending Okafor.
To win this Game, Notre Dame will need to Scorea bunch, which is basically how they’ve won 19 Games. They are second in the nation in shooting percentage and Scoremore than 81 points per Game. Of course, Duke has similar numbers to that, but are a much better rebounding team, which could be the deciding factor in this Game.
In addition to Okafor, Amile Jefferson isn’t as skilled, but his size will be big. He and Okafor average a combined 16.6 rebounds per Game. Pat Connaughton leads the Irish in rebounding with 8.3 per Game, but he’s also only 6’5″. Getting those rebounds will be a bit harder to do against Duke.
The interesting thing for this Game will be how another freshman bounces back for Duke. Justise Winslow played only 10 minutes on Sunday and scored zero points. He can be one of the most dynamic players on the cOurt at times, but as seen against St. John’s, he’s not all that consistent.
On the other end, the Duke defense will have a lot on their hands against Jerian Grant and crew. The Blue Devils will have trouble finding someone to match the guard who’s averaging 16.8 points. While shooting is a big aspect of Notre Dame’s Game from Connaughton and Steve Vasturia, the playmaking ability of Grant and Demetrius Jackson will be even bigger in this Game. Not to mention Auguste will have to work Okafor on the defensive end as well. It will be a fun matchup to watch as Auguste has really come into his own this season.
The Blue Devils probably have the better overall team, but we’ll get to see how much of a factor ND’s home-cOurt advantage is. If the Irish are hitting their shots, not many can beat them, but if they can’t stop Duke on the other end, it will be tough to win against the presence of Okafor.
Our Prediction – Duke by 4