Notre Dame vs. Duke Betting Odds & Pick: How to Play This Must-Win ACC Matchup (Feb. 9)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Brey.
- Two struggling ACC powers meet on Tuesday in Durham when Duke hosts Notre Dame.
- Both schools are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament, mostly due to an inability to finish games.
- Instead of backing either team to do so, Pat McMahon explains where he sees value between the Fighting Irish and Blue Devils.
Notre Dame vs. Duke Odds
|Notre Dame Odds||+6.5|
|Moneyline||+225 / -275|
|Time | TV||4:30 p.m. ET | ACC Network|
|Odds as of Tuesday afternoon and via BetMGM. Get an INSTANT $500 deposit match at BetMGM today.|
Notre Dame and Duke clash on Tuesday night in Durham, with both teams in desperate need of a victory.
It’s been far from a banner year for both programs.
Duke comes in with a .500 record overall (7-7) and in ACC play (5-5). After back-to-back losses to Miami and North Carolina, the Blue Devils’ 24 straight NCAA Tournament appearances streak is in serious jeopardy. A loss to the Irish on Tuesday would virtually destroy their chances for an at-large bid.
Notre Dame (7-10, 4-7 ACC) has looked better as of late but dug itself too big a hole to start the season. Barring a miracle run in the conference tournament, the Irish will not be dancing in March.
The Fighting Irish are still talented, however, and have the ability to hang tough with anyone. Despite it being a down year for the Blue Devils, an upset over Duke would still mean a lot to Notre Dame and instill some confidence down the stretch.
Notre Dame’s Second-Half Struggles
Mike Brey’s team may not be filled with future draft picks, but the Irish still have plenty of talent. The current junior class was Brey’s top-rated recruiting class at Notre Dame. All four players were top-100 recruits, per 247 Sports. Outside of Robby Carmody, who’s had an injury-riddled career, each player has more or less lived up to the billing.
The other three members of that 2018 class — Prentiss Hubb, Nate Laszewski, and Dane Goodwin — are the Irish’s top three players.
Laszewski has been particularly impressive, blossoming into a star in his first season as a full-time starter. He leads Notre Dame in scoring and rebounding, and he’s the ACC’s leader in both field goal (64.3%) and 3-point percentage (52.5%).
Hubb is also putting together a nice season, averaging 14.5 points and ranking second in the ACC with 5.9 assists. Goodwin averages double figures, as well, and both he (35.6%) and Hubb (39.7%) are shooting the 3-point ball at a high level.
Notre Dame’s bench isn’t very deep, but that hasn’t stopped good Irish teams in the past and Brey does have a reliable seven-man rotation.
The talent isn’t really the problem on this Irish team, so what is keeping them from winning? The answer stems from a combination of a difficult schedule and an inability to finish when they have a lead.
The Irish have the 23rd-ranked strength of schedule, per teamrankings.com. The non-conference season was shortened for everybody, and Brey scheduled a very difficult slate. The Irish have faced plenty of very good teams and found themselves in most games until the end.
Notre Dame often starts well but has the propensity to fall apart after halftime. It’s happened to the Irish a number of times against good teams this season, most recently on Saturday at Georgia Tech:
- 12/8 vs. Ohio State: led 42-35 at half, lost 90-85
- 12/12 at Kentucky: led 48-26 at half, won 64-63
- 1/2 at UNC: led 30-29 at half, lost 66-65
- 1/10 at Virginia Tech: led 42-35 at half, lost 77-63
- 2/6 at Georgia Tech: led 50-35 at half, lost 82-80
These letdowns have been absolute killers for the Irish, and it has to be deflating to see this trend throughout an entire season.
Brey’s second-half strategy has continually backfired against quality opponents. Milking the shot clock every time down the court is a dangerous game when it’s done too early, and you still have to be able to score when doing so.
Brey does this when the Irish have a decent lead in the second half but has failed to deviate despite watching his team blow multiple big leads.
Duke’s Close Game Struggles
One of the Blue Devils’ main issues is similar to Notre Dame’s, in that Duke has struggled to win tight games. Their first- and second-half splits aren’t as dramatic as the Irish’s, but the Blue Devils have floundered down the stretch in several games this season.
Outside of their 15-point loss to Illinois, all of Duke’s losses have been by single digits. Conversely, only two of their seven wins have come by single digits.
When the Blue Devils get in control early, they’ve been able to cruise to victory. They boast several blowout wins and handled the Irish easily in their first meeting, a 75-65 road win that wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
However, when the game is tight the entire way or they’re trying to battle from behind, the Blue Devils have really struggled.
Duke ranks 330th in KenPom‘s luck rating, which measures the deviation of a team’s actual winning percentage compared to the expected winning percentage based on their efficiency margins. While KenPom coins this term as luck, rating poorly in this category is also an indicator that the team struggles to close out tight games.
One of the potential causes to these struggles is the Blue Devils’ youth. Mike Krzyzewski has adapted to the one-and-done era as well as any coach but as we’ve seen at both Duke and Kentucky this season, relying on freshmen won’t work every year.
Three of Duke’s top-five scorers this season are highly touted freshman.
DJ Steward, Jalen Johnson and Jeremy Roach are all fine players, but none have performed to the level of some past one-and-done Blue Devils that went on to be high draft picks.
Sophomore forward Matthew Hurt has had a big season and leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. Hurt, along with Laszewski, is one of the leading candidates for the ACC’s most improved player.
While Hurt’s increased production has been a welcome sight for Duke fans, the lack of a go-to guard has held them back offensively. Today’s game is very guard-heavy, and teams need reliable scorers in the backcourt to execute down the stretch in tight games.
Duke simply doesn’t have that this season and could miss out on the tournament because of it.
Betting Analysis & Pick
With the way these teams have executed late in games, I’m hesitant to play anything for the full game. Instead, I’ll turn my attention to the first half, where I believe the over will have value.
Notre Dame and Duke both boast very efficient offenses, with the Irish ranking 17th in offensive efficiency and the Blue Devils 20th. The Irish are one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the nation and rank second in the ACC in percentage, knocking down 38.7% of their attempts from distance.
Notre Dame’s offense has been in a better rhythm in the last four games, as well, putting up at least 79 points in each.
In most of the games that the Irish have collapsed in the second half this season, they’ve had no issues putting up points in the first half.
Even in the first game against Duke when they weren’t sharp, the Irish were still better offensively in the first 20 minutes. Both offenses played better in the first half in the earlier meeting, with 75 total points in the first half to 65 in the second.
I think both teams will come out loose and firing early. With the total sitting at 148.5, we’ll likely see a first-half number of about 71, which I believe is five or six points too low.
Pick: First Half Over 71 or Better.