No.2 Duke vs Notre Dame Preview and Prediction
No.2 Duke vs Notre Dame Preview
The second-ranked Blue Devils have not looked themselves lately. They will have a chance to ‘find themselves’ with Monday night’s game against Notre Dame at the Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind.
Point guard Tre Jones returned Saturday after an absence of nearly three full games. The Blue Devils were overjoyed with his return to action after he suffered a separated shoulder less than two weeks earlier.
“Being able to be back out there with the guys, it meant a lot to me,” Jones said after the Blue Devils overcame visiting Georgia Tech for a 66-53 victory Saturday.
The freshman Jones doesn’t score a lot (8 PPG) but he isn’t asked to–he excels on the defensive end of the floor and the Blue Devils sorely missed his presence on that end during his three-game absence.
RJ Barrett said it best, “With Tre out there, we finally feel we can play our defense again,”
Duke (17-2, 6-1 ACC) will go into the Notre Dame game coming off its lowest team point total of the season.
Barrett took over some of the ball-handling duties when Jones was sidelined, but he hasn’t lost his scoring touch. With 24 points in the Georgia Tech game, Barrett has 16 games with 20 or more points.
Barrett ranks first in ACC scoring at 23.9 points per game, and teammate Zion Williamson is second at 21.7. Williamson has at least nine field goals in four consecutive games, shooting a combined 42 of 61 in those games.
If Barrett and Williamson have their usual offensive outings and Jones delivers his signature defense…this is going to be a long night for the Irish and their fans.
Notre Dame is coming off a 27-point loss to Virginia on Saturday.
“We don’t have much time to dwell on it with what’s happening on Monday night in this league,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “We’ve got to try to pick up and be more competitive on Monday.”
Brey said the Irish need to regain a fighting spirit in short order.
“We need to get that back before these (Duke) guys come to town,” Brey said. “After something like this, guys want to get it out of their system.”
This is an incredible gauntlet for Notre Dame (11-9, 1-6), playing the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the country in a matter of three days.
The Irish’s 82-55 home loss to No. 3 Cavaliers marked the team’s fourth consecutive setback.
“That’s men vs. boys, flat-out,” Brey said. “Certainly very impressed with Virginia. They kind of took our spirit.”
John Mooney is averaging a double-double with 14.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game–but the team really misses Rex Pflueger who will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL that occurred in December.
Mooney will need to have a dominating outing against one of college basketball’s most intimidating figures in freshman Zion Williamson.
LINE: -14 Duke
Dan’s Bet: Duke -14
Score Prediction: Duke 88 Notre Dame 70