How They Are Doing So Far:
Notre Dame’s brutal stretch of games comes to an end on Monday night when they host Duke. The Blue Devils have been one of most dominate teams in the country this season, beating the likes of Kentucky, Auburn, Indiana, Texas Tech, Florida State and Virginia. Duke has been occasionally susceptible to bad games, most notably their overtime home loss to Syracuse. However, Syracuse is a much better team than Notre Dame, so the Irish will struggle to keep this game close even in South Bend.
Last Time Out:
Duke did not look all that good on Saturday when they beat Georgia Tech 66-53. That was a season low in points for the Blue Devils. The good news for Duke is that Tre Jones returned from injury and played a solid 35 minutes. He had missed the previous two contests. Jones only scored six points and dished out four assists against the Yellow Jackets, but Duke desperately needed some perimeter options to go along with their dominant, albeit proven versatile, frontcourt. It was that frontcourt that carried Duke past Georgia Tech. R.J. Barrett led the team with 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Zion Williamson added 22 points and seven boards.
Who To Watch:
Zion Williamson scored 28 points against Kentucky in his collegiate debut and has not looked back since. The 6-7 freshman averages 21.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals during what most expect will be his only collegiate season before heading off to the NBA. Williamson has been scoring even more lately. After dropping 35 on Syracuse, he scored 27 against Virginia, 25 against Pitt and 22 last game against Georgia Tech. The Irish, like everybody else, will try to come up with a way to contain Williamson, but it will not happen.
Who Else To Watch:
It would be easy to think that Williamson is the team’s leading scorer, but it is actually R.J. Barrett, who averages 23.9 points per game. Another 6-7 freshman, Barrett is the more dynamic scorer who can consistently step outside and knock down shots. On the year Barrett is only shooting 31.1 percent from beyond the arc, but even the threat of him to shoot from long range makes his ability to attack the basket even more dangerous. Barrett can also handle the ball and he showed that during Tre Jones’ brief absence.
Notre Dame is just 1-6 in ACC play, but it has been a tough stretch of games. It will get a bit easier for a while after Duke comes to town. However, Notre Dame is struggling with injuries and will likely be without Juwan Durham on top of Rex Pflueger and Robby Carmody, who are both out for the season. That has severely limited Coach Mike Brey’s options and leaves little hope for a massive upset against the Blue Devils. Meanwhile, Duke has responded nicely since their loss to Syracuse and the Irish will be the next victim of the young Blue Devils as they gain more momentum heading towards the NCAA Tournament.