Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Duke Blue Devils Pick & Prediction JANUARY 6th 2024

No. 14 Duke brings one conference win and a little bit of worry to South Bend for Saturday night’s matchup with Notre Dame. The ACC preseason favorites are still trying to reflect that description away from home.

Duke (10-3, 1-1 ACC) lost its only two true road games this season. But there are signs the Blue Devils are rounding into form. Duke has won five games in a row, including Tuesday night’s 86-66 home victory over Syracuse.

A big second half carried Duke over the Orange. The Blue Devils were 8-for-8 on second-half, 3-point attempts – marking the most 3s without a miss in a half in program history.

“It’s a great lesson for us on how to continue to break the defense down and score together,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said. Notre Dame (6-8, 1-2) is reeling from a buzzer-beater loss to NC State on Wednesday.

The last-second loss to North Carolina State was impactful mostly because of the minutes and plays that happened to lead to the decisive moment. The Fighting Irish never trailed in the game — until the Wolfpack’s final shot. Notre Dame built a lead to as many as 11 points in the second half. “They made plays down the stretch,” Notre Dame coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “Older guys made plays down the stretch. … Our lack of discipline is what got us.” Notre Dame is very much in a learning year with Shrewsberry fresh to campus. But there are various methods the Blue Devils might use in order to be successful. They went with a four-guard lineup at times vs. Syracuse, for example. “When you get into this time of year, in ACC play, I think it just takes different things to win,” Duke forward Mark Mitchell said. There was also a brief stretch on defense when the Blue Devils went to a zone, nearly unheard of in the past four decades. That came in part because Kyle Filipowski was limited by foul trouble in the first half and backup post Ryan Young also was dinged with fouls. “We’ve had that in,” Scheyer said of an alternate defense. “It’s important to have different looks.”

Freshman guard Jared McCain has shot 53.1 percent (17-for-32) on 3-pointers during Duke’s current winning streak. He made four in the second half Tuesday night. “When I see an open one, I’m going to shoot it every time,” McCain said. “I’ve just got to always instill confidence in myself. I work on those shots, so I’m just going to keep shooting them.” Guard Tyrese Proctor could be set to move back into Duke’s starting lineup. He has played in a reserve role in two games since missing four weeks with an ankle injury. Scheyer said it doesn’t matter so much who’s in starting roles because he likes the unselfishness he has seen from the Blue Devils lately. “They’re not playing for numbers,” he said. “They’re just playing to win. And so, Tyrese, he’s efficient. I thought he did a great job just jumping in and playing to win and playing together. We’re better for it and we’ll take off from there.” This will be Duke’s second game of the week and third in conference play against a first-year ACC coach. Notre Dame is wrapping up a six-game homestand. “We should be 2-1 in this league,” Shrewsberry said. “You never know which thing that happens that breaks your back.” Duke leads the series with Notre Dame by 29-8. –Field Level Media

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