Preview: Duke at Notre Dame
Duke hopes to begin 2014 the same way it ended 2013, while Notre Dame is desperate for the new year to bring a change in momentum. The eighth-ranked Blue Devils visit the Fighting Irish on Saturday in the ACC opener for both teams. It may feel like a non-conference game, however, as Notre Dame spent the previous 18 seasons in the Big East before jumping ship to the ACC this year, along with Syracuse and Pittsburgh.The Blue Devils ended December with five straight wins - all by double digits - including a 38-point rout of Elon on New Year's Eve. The Fighting Irish, meanwhile, blew an eight-point lead in the final minute of a crushing loss to Ohio State on Dec. 21 before sneaking past Canisius in overtime eight days later. Even worse, Notre Dame's leading scorer, senior guard Jerian Grant, withdrew from school due to academics and redshirting forward Cam Biedscheid announced that he was transferring from the program.TV: 4 p.m. ET, CBSABOUT DUKE (11-2): While freshman sensation Jabari Parker (21.4 points) gets most of the attention for Duke, several of his teammates have had notable performances of late. Senior guard Andre Dawkins made five 3-pointers against Elon and is now 11-of-17 from behind the arc over his last two games, and sophomore forward Amile Jefferson notched a career-high 14 rebounds against Eastern Michigan on Dec. 28. On the other hand, sophomore guard Rodney Hood (17.2 points) has not surpassed 15 points in any of his last five games after notching at least 20 in five of his first eight contests.ABOUT NOTRE DAME (9-4): In Grant's absence, fellow senior Eric Atkins scored 30 points and dished out seven assists against Canisius while senior center Garrick Sherman had 17 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season - all in the last five games. "It's going to be exciting," Sherman said in a postgame interview regarding the impending matchup versus Duke. "No one will give us a chance, so it's going to be a great opportunity." Notre Dame coach Mike Brey spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the Blue Devils, who lead the all-time series with the Fighting Irish 19-2.TIP-INS1. This is the first meeting between the teams since Duke's second-round win over Notre Dame in the 2002 NCAA Tournament.2. Duke G Rasheed Sulaimon, who was buried deep in Mike Krzyzewski's doghouse last month, has played much better over the last three games, averaging 10.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and three assists.3. The Blue Devils have allowed increasingly fewer points in each of their last six games .PREDICTION: Duke 81, Notre Dame 61
Distributed by Internet Broadcasting and The Sports Xchange. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.