Notre Dame basketball is 1-4 against ranked opponents as they take on #17 Duke in South Bend.
Notre Dame and Duke may be the two ACC teams no one can figure out. Coming into the season on completely opposite ends of the spectrum, they seem to have meshed into the unknown teams of the ACC.
Since losing Coach K, the Blue Devils have found trouble in almost every game they’ve played. At 16-5, Duke is not where they believed they’d be, yet, are still competing in the top 25. At 17th in the country, the Blue Devils are nowhere near out of the loop.
Notre Dame is somewhat in a different scenario. The Irish were given no chance to be where they are right now coming into the season. What they’ve done so far this year is prove everyone wrong, then begin to prove them right.
Falling in three of their last four games, Notre Dame is in desperate need of a win. They don’t need a big win, though. Beating Duke by any margin would be enough to get the Irish out of their slump and away from the “overhyped” name.
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First, Notre Dame needs to actually win. To do so, they’re going to need to stop one of the most talented teams in the country. Whether they play like it or not, Duke’s entire team matches up with any in the NCAA.
The key for the Irish isn’t to outmatch Grayson Allen or Luke Kennard. For Notre Dame to outmatch the Blue Devils, they need to play like stars. V.J. Beachem, Matt Farrell, Steve Vasturia and Bonzie Colson don’t need to have big games. They all need to have a big game.
If Notre Dame wants to beat Duke, the key is to rely on their entire group of stars. If one or two of their core players has a big night, the Irish won’t pull off this victory. To win against Duke, the four studs on this roster need to play like they’re the best in the ACC.
The problem Notre Dame seems to have is that their stars are spotty. Besides Colson and Farrell, the Irish don’t have a player who performs well on a consistent basis. One game, Beachem may have 30 points and the next four he might have 10, and same with everyone else. Without some form of a group effort, Duke’s talent is going to be too much for Notre Dame.
PREDICTION: Notre Dame falls to 6-4 in the ACC, losing to Duke 85-81.
Notre Dame is the scrappiest team in the NCAA. But without all their stars performing, the Irish don’t have enough firepower to compete with the best in the country.
Duke is stacked whether they play like it or not. If they come out hot, Notre Dame is going to need everything they have to beat them. Frankly, it’s hard to say the Irish have shown they can win in big moments this season because they haven’t shown it.
The Irish need this game more than Duke does. To get back on track and keep their ACC regular season title hopes alive, Notre Dame will have to start beating top 25 teams. This one will be a struggle for the Irish, and they won’t be able to pull it out.