7) Louisville Cardinals (13-6, 8-5) vs. 10) Duke Blue Devils (12-11, 9-9)
ACC Tournament Second Round
Game Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Greensboro Coliseum: Greensboro, N.C.
Television: ACC Network
Announcers: Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (analyst), Allison Williams (reporter)
Favorite: Duke by 2.5
Series: Duke leads, 10-9
Last Meeting: Louisville won 80-73 in overtime on Feb. 27 in Durham
Possible Louisville Starting Lineup:
Not a whole lot about the Blue Devils has changed since the last time we did this. After falling in overtime to the Cards on Feb. 27, Duke dropped another overtime heartbreaker to Georgia Tech three days later and that got blown out by rival North Carolina in its regular season finale.
The 10-seed in this tournament, Duke likely needs to win at least three games in Greensboro to have a realistic shot of playing their way into the NCAA tournament. They started that process in style on Wednesday, drilling a season high 15 three-pointers in an 86-51 blowout of 15th-seeded Boston College.
If you aren’t familiar with Matthew Hurt then I’m just going to assume you didn’t watch either of the first two games between these teams. Hurt torched the Cards for 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting in January, and then dropped a career-high 37 on U of L in round two. He’s averaged just over 11 points per game in Duke’s three games since their most recent loss to Louisville, and attempted just six shots in Tuesday’s win. None of that matters. We all know what he’s capable of doing against us tonight.
Second-leading scorer DJ Steward (13.2 ppg) comes into this game on a relatively hot streak. He was the team’s top performer in the win over Boston College, scoring 17 points and dishing out four assists while turning the ball over just once. Steward has made at least one three-pointer in every game since going 0-for-3 from deep against Bellarmine on Dec. 4, and drilled three in Tuesday’s win over BC. His worst shooting performance of the season came in the last game against Louisville, where he went just 2-of-13 from the field and 1-of-5 from three.
Perhaps the biggest change for Duke since the departure of star freshman Jalen Johnson has been the emergence of freshman big man Mark Williams. The 7-footer’s season averages remain modest, but like Steward, he’s coming into the Louisville game riding high. He’s scored in double figures in each of Duke’s last three games, and is a scorching 22-of-26 from the field over that span. He’ll be a monster task for an undersized Cardinal front-court that has struggled with being exploited by tall and brawny post players when it hasn’t had Malik Williams this season. This has to be a game where Jae’Lyn Withers is locked in from the opening tip and not one where his mind is somewhere else until we’re deep into the first half.
Senior point guard Jordan Goldwire continues to play his role well for the Devils. He’s never going to be a threat to go off for 30 points, but Goldwire leads the ACC in assist/turnover ratio (+2.72), is second in the league in steals (2.5 — 12th in the NCAA) and is fifth in the ACC in assists (4.0). His 19 multi-steal games (he had two in game one vs. Louisville) are the most in the country.
Louisville has been one of the better transition defense teams in the country so far this season, a trend which must continue if the Cards want to advance to Thursday’s quarterfinal (and probably lock up an NCAA tournament berth in the process). It’s much, much easier said than done, but U of L has to limit Duke’s ability to get easy buckets off the break and clean looks from outside in the halfcourt. Do that, and the Cards have a good chance to score a third win this season over Coach K.
What Duke does do well: Score in transition, shoot the three, create steals, block shots, rebound on both ends.
What Duke does not do well: Get to the free-throw line, make free-throws, defend the three, keep opponents off the free-throw line, defend in transition.
—Louisville is 2-4 all-time in the ACC tournament, but is 2-0 in second round games.
—Louisville is the only program in college basketball that has played at least 10 games against Mike Krzyzewski and owns a winning record (9-6) against the Hall of Famer.
—Louisville is looking to be the first team to beat Coach K three times in one season since Virginia accomplished the feat in 1982-83.
—Duke is an ACC-best 104-45 all-time in the ACC tournament with a league record 21 titles. Eight of those championships have come at Greensboro Coliseum, where Duke is 40-18 in the tournament (29-10 under Coach K).
—The Blue Devils have posted an all-time record of 98-40 at the Greensboro Coliseum dating back to 1960.
—Mike Krzyzewski is 66-23 all-time in the ACC tournament with 15 titles. Duke has won 12 of the last 23 ACC titles and is 49-11 in the tournament in that span, including nine wins in its last 10 games. The Blue Devils have won two of the last three ACC tournament titles.
—Louisville has made it to at least the quarterfinals in each of the last nine conference tournaments it has participated in. The Cards were set to play Syracuse in the quarterfinals of last year’s ACC tournament on the day the event was canceled.
—Duke’s Matthew Hurt and Iowa’s Luka Garza are the only major college players shooting 50+ percent from the field, 40+ percent from three-point range and making 7.0+ field goals per game this season.
—Louisville is just 1-4 as an underdog this season, with its one win coming on Feb. 27 at Duke.
—This is the second time Louisville has been the No. 7 seed for the ACC tournament. In 2019, the Cards defeated 15th-seeded Notre Dame in the second round before falling to second-seeded North Carolina in the quarterfinals.
—This is the first time in program history that Duke has been a double-digit seed for the ACC tournament.
—Chris Mack is 11-9 all-time in conference tournaments. He’s reached the championship game twice, but has never won a conference tournament title.
—In college basketball history, a team has never lost its first conference tournament game and gone on to win the NCAA tournament.
—Duke has had at least one First Team All-ACC performer in 14 consecutive seasons, the second-longest such streak in ACC history, and the longest of the Coach K era in Durham.
—Eight of the last nine games in this series have been decided by single digits.
—Louisville’s Josh Nickelberry and Duke’s Joey Baker were teammates for two seasons at Trinity Christian High School before Nickelberry moved to Northwood Temple Academy for his final two prep years. Nickelberry also played AAU ball with Duke’s Wendell Moore.
—Louisville has won 12 of its last 16 conference tournament games and has won four of the last 10 conference tournaments it has competed in.
—Duke is 9-0 this season when holding opponents to 68 points or fewer, and just 3-11 when allowing more than 68 points.
—Louisville beat Duke 72-69 in the 1986 NCAA Championship game behind Final Four Most Outstanding Player Pervis Ellison’s 25 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.
—Louisville and Duke have played 10 times since the Cardinals joined the ACC in 2014-15, with each side winning five.
—Entering Wednesday’s game, these two teams are right next to each other in the NET Rankings, with Duke sitting at No. 51 and Louisville at No. 52.
—Louisville is 12-0 this season when shooting a better percentage from the field than its opponent, and 1-6 when shooting a worse percentage.
—Louisville is 10-0 this season when it makes six or more three-pointers, and just 3-6 when failing to hit that mark.
—Louisville is 27-1 over the last two seasons when scoring at least 71 points, including 9-1 this season. The lone loss came at Miami.
—Since 2004, Louisville is 126-0 when leading by more than 10 points at halftime.
—Louisville has won 162 consecutive games when holding an opponent under 50 points.
—Louisville has won 155 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.
—Louisville is one of just four schools which have won 20 or more games on the court in each of the last 18 seasons. Gonzaga, Duke and Kansas are the others. The Cardinals have only played 19 total games so far this season.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Duke 71, Louisville 70