Although there are only two ranked teams in action on the college hoops slate, there’s a massive ACC showdown between No. 9 Duke and Notre Dame. The Blue Devils and Fighting Irish sit in a two-way tie for second place in the conference standings. Let’s break down my college basketball best bets for this matchup.
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No. 9 Duke Blue Devils at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
While Mike Krzyzewski’s bunch still finds itself in the top 10 of my college basketball power rankings, the Blue Devils’ defense has been fortunate in ACC play.
Despite allowing a conference-low 27.6% clip from behind the arc, 44.0% of their opponents’ perimeter looks are wide-open (via ShotQuality). Teams were failing to truly exploit that flaw until Clemson and Louisville in the last week, and the Irish’s floor-spacing attack is set up to do the same.
Mike Brey’s three-out, two-in motion offense is tallying the 28th-highest 3-point scoring rate in the country. Its off-ball action is a vital reason why, freeing up Dane Goodwin & Co. for open looks. Duke’s ball-screen coverage has struggled throughout ACC play, and it could be without the 6-foot-4 Trevor Keels (leg) for a fourth-straight game.
Keels is a dynamic scorer (11.9 ppg), yet he’s even more valuable at the other end. If he suits up, he’ll likely be a bit limited.
On top of that, Notre Dame manufactures the 25th-highest defensive rebounding rate in the country. Led by frontcourt mates Paul Atkinson Jr. and Nate Laszewski, Brey possesses the length to limit Duke’s second-chance opportunities.
The Blue Devils took advantage of Louisville in that category amid Saturday’s win, collecting 20 offensive rebounds. If the Irish produce a different result, though, they’ll have success accruing fast-break looks from 3-point land — especially against Duke’s erratic transition defense.
Now, the Blue Devils should expose Notre Dame’s post-up defense with big men Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams. But there could be a stretch in which Krzyzewski sits Williams because of the Irish’s prowess for spreading teams out.
Considering Duke closed -6.5 against Louisville, there’s enough value to back the home underdog against the spread.
College Basketball Best Bets: Notre Dame +5.5 (-110)
Best Available Line: Notre Dame