Louisville Cardinals (11-9, 5-5) vs. Duke Blue Devils (16-3, 6-2)
Game Time: 12:01 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen (play-by-play) and Chris Spatola (analyst)
Favorite: Duke by 7
Officials: Jeffrey Anderson, Brent Hampton, Tommy Morrissey
Series: Duke leads, 11-9
Last Meeting: Duke won 70-56 on March 10, 2021 in the second round of the ACC tournament in Greensboro
Possible Starting Lineups:
The ACC’s only nationally-ranked team for much of the 2021-22 season, Duke carries a 16-3 overall record and the No. 9 ranking the current AP top 25 poll into this weekend’s road game against Louisville. The Blue Devils are beginning a stretch of three straight games and four of their next five on the road.
The Blue Devils are led by freshman sensation Paolo Banchero, a near lock to be one of the first three players selected in the 2022 NBA draft. The versatile Banchero leads all true freshmen nationally in scoring (17.9) and is fourth in rebounding (7.9). He is fifth in the ACC in scoring, sixth in rebounding, eighth in field goal percentage, and his eight 20-point efforts lead all power conference true freshmen. Banchero has been stellar all season, but has been at his best in recent weeks, averaging a double-double over Duke’s last four games with 18.8 points and 10.0 rebounds, while dishing out 4.8 assists and shooting .583 (28-of-48) from the field in that span.
One of the ACC’s best on-ball defenders, junior Wendell Moore Jr. is holding opposing players to just .349 from the field and .258 from three-point range when he is the primary defender. He’s also averaging career-highs in scoring (15.1 ppg), rebounding (5.6 rpg), and assists (4.6 apg).
Louisville fans should be extremely familiar with sophomore big man Mark Williams, who torched the Cards to the tune of 23 points and 19 rebounds in last year’s ACC tournament. Built like one of the giants from Game of Thrones, Williams currently leads the ACC and is eighth nationally in blocked shots per game (3.26).
As a team, Duke leads the ACC in scoring offense (82.0 ppg), field goal percentage (.491), assists (18.0 apg), assists-turnovers ratio (1.72), blocked shots (5.7 bpg) and scoring margin (+16.2). They’ve won two straight following a 20-point blowout of Syracuse last Saturday and a 71-69 nailbiter over Clemson on Tuesday.
—This will be Louisville’s first game since parting ways with former head coach Chris Mack on Wednesday, Jan. 26. The Cardinals will be led by interim head coach Mike Pegues, who went 5-1 as U of L’s interim head coach while Mack was serving a six-game suspension to start the season.
—Louisville will honor its 1972 and 1982 NCAA Final Four teams at halftime of Saturday’s game.
—Louisville is the only program in college basketball that has played at least 10 games against Mike Krzyzewski and owns a winning record (9-7) against the Hall of Famer.
—This will be Krzyzewski’s final season as Duke’s head coach, and this is the only scheduled meeting between the Cardinals and Blue Devils this season.
—Eight of the last 10 games in this series have been decided by single digits.
—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 11 times since the Cardinals joined the ACC in 2014-15, with the Blue Devils winning six of those games and U of L prevailing five times.
—Duke sophomore Mark Williams had a career game in last year’s ACC Tournament win over the Cards with career highs in points (23) and rebounds (19) — the most rebounds by a freshman in ACCT history.
—Louisville has used 10 different starting lineups in 20 games so far this season.
—Duke assistant coach Nolan Smith’s father Derek Smith was a member of Louisville’s 1980 NCAA Championship team and is seventh in career scoring with 1,826 points before a nine-year NBA career. Derek, who passed away on Aug. 9, 1996, is one of 20 Honored Jersey recipients for the Cardinals and is a member of the U of L Hall of Fame. Smith was the leading scorer (15.7 ppg) on Louisville’s 1982 NCAA Final Four team that will be recognized at halftime of Saturday’s game.
—Duke freshman star Paolo Banchero is averaging a double-double over Duke’s last four games with 18.8 points and 10.0 rebounds, while dishing out 4.8 assists and shooting .583 (28-of-48) from the field in that span.
—Banchero is fifth in the ACC in scoring, sixth in rebounding, and eighth in field goal percentage. His eight 20-point efforts lead all power conference true freshmen. His 19.9 points in ACC games lead the conference.
—Banchero leads all true freshmen nationally in scoring (17.9) and is fourth in rebounding (7.9).
—This is the first time a Louisville team has dropped at least nine of its first 20 games since the Cardinals started 8-12 in 2000-01, Denny Crum’s final season as head coach of the Cards.
—Since January 1, Duke opponents are shooting just .264 (40-of-151) from three-point range — the best percentage defense by power conference teams and 16th best overall in that span.
—Louisville is 10-1 this season when shooting a better field goal percentage than their opponents and also 8-1 when shooting more free-throws than their foes.
—According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Louisville is a 7-point underdog in this game. The Cardinals are 3-3 straight up as an underdog so far this season.
—Duke is 16-4 all-time when playing on Jan. 29 and has won seven straight and nine of the last 10.
—Duke leads the ACC and is 13th nationally in blocked shots per game (5.7), paced by the ACC blocks leader, sophomore Mark Williams, who is eighth nationally with 3.26 blocks per game.
—Louisville is 216-12 over the last 20 seasons and 13-0 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more.
—Louisville is 166-7 over the past 20 seasons when shooting 50 percent or better and 13-0 over the last three.
—Louisville is 34-3 over the last three seasons when scoring at least 71 points.
—Louisville is 14-0 over the past 10 seasons when limiting opponents to no more than one three-point field goal.
—Since 2004, Louisville is 130-0 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 156 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.
—Louisville is one of only five schools to be ranked in the AP Top 25 poll at least once during each of the last 18 seasons (others: Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, & North Carolina).
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Duke 74, Louisville 65