Recently considered on the bubble to get into the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Notre Dame suffered a blowout loss to Duke that may end those hopes.
It has been a difficult week for the Notre Dame men’s basketball program. Coming into this week, the Irish hoops team had rattled off four wins in a row against ACC opponents Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh and Clemson. As a result, many were proclaiming that Notre Dame had positioned themselves to be a bubble team for the NCAA tournament.
After a crushing overtime loss on Tuesday that saw the Irish lose to Virginia 50-49 in a defensive battle, Notre Dame looked to keep their tournament hope alive when they traveled to Cameron Indoor Arena in hopes of pulling off a major upset against a 7th ranked Duke team.
The Irish would be embarrassed by Duke, as the Blue Devils would run away with the victory 94-60 against the Irish. Vernon Carey Jr. would drop 21 points on Notre Dame and Tre Jones would chip in 19 points as the Irish seemingly had no answer for Duke.
Notre Dame was able to keep the game within 10 in the first half, but Duke shot an incredible 58.3% in the second half en route to a blowout win over the Irish. Additionally, the Blue Devils shot 50% from three-point range in the second half, which allowed them to easily defeat Notre Dame.
The Irish needed to make a statement win this week to keep their tournament hopes alive. At 15-10 and 6-8 in the ACC, Notre Dame still has an outside chance of making the NCAA tournament. However, they will need to either win the ACC Tournament outright or go on an impressive run down the stretch if they hope to keep their chances for the tournament alive.
The embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Blue Devils serves as evidence that this Irish team is currently not a legitimate contender. Duke is one of the best teams in the nation and may boast the most talent of any men’s team in college basketball. However, they had failed to gel for most of the season and live up to their immense potential.
It appears that they gelled just fine against Notre Dame, as they cruised to victory. John Mooney and Juwan Durham were the lone bright spots for the Irish, as they contributed 19 and 21 points respectively for Notre Dame.
Things get a bit easier for Notre Dame in the future, as they host North Carolina and Miami before going on the road to play Boston College and Wake Forest to close out the month of February. They return home for their final two games in March, to host 8th ranked Florida State and Virginia Tech before heading to the ACC Tournament.
The Irish will look to put what has been a difficult week behind them as they look to make a strong push to close out the season. They will need to have some definitive statement wins and not endure any significant losses if they hope to have a legitimate chance of making the tournament.
How the team bounces back from two tough losses will be a good indicator of what we can expect for the Notre Dame men’s basketball program as they head into the home stretch of the season. They play host to the Tar Heels tomorrow night at 7:00 PM, as they look to turn things around.