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Preview: ACC bragging rights on the line as No. 1 Notre Dame hosts No. 2 Louisville

Not only is it a battle of No. 1 and No. 2 in the AP ranking, but the matchup features two premier guards in Asia Durr and Arike Ogunbowale. Both seniors are candidates for the Player of the Year. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. ET.

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC Tournament - Notre Dame vs Louisville
To stay No. 1, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame will have to get past a hungry Louisville team.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Major bragging rights are on the line this evening as the No. 2 Louisville Cardinals battle the No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the coveted top spot in women’s basketball.

Last time out

The Louisville Cardinals faced the Blue Devils at Duke on Jan. 6. The Cardinals came out strong in their ACC road opener, defeating the Blue Devils, 73-51.

Arica Carter was on fire knocking down 7-of-10 three-pointers and racking up 23 points.

Defensively, the Cardinals limited Duke to less than 15 points per quarter, while forcing 24 turnovers.

The Fighting Irish, meanwhile, are coming off a 76-55 win against Georgia Tech. By the half, the Irish were a perfect 17 assists on 17 made field goals.

Led by Jessica Shepard’s 19 points, all five of Notre Dame’s starters finished in double figures.

Battle of the senior guards

Not only is this matchup featuring the top two teams, but also a pair of Player of the Year hopefuls in Asia Durr and Arike Ogunbowale.

Durr has been a sensation for the Cardinals throughout her career at Louisville.

Just a season ago, the guard was named ACC Player of the Year. Durr was also named the Most Outstanding Player of the Lexington Regional, along with being named a finalist for the Citizen Naismith Trophy and John Wooden Award.

The senior is off to a hot start, averaging 20.9 points per game, putting her at second in scoring in the ACC and 15th nationally.

On the flip side, Ogunbowale is just as powerful of a presence on the court. The senior guard is averaging 22.1 points per game, while shooting 49% from the field.

Team effort

Louisville is offensively stacked with four players averaging double-figure scoring and three more averaging above five points per game.

Pacing the Cardinals and averaging 20.9 points is senior guard, Durr. Senior Sam Fuehring is adding 10.7 points, while sophomore reserve Dana Evans is contributing 10.6. Senior Arica Carter rounds out Louisville’s double-figure scorers with 10.1 points per game.

Bianca Dunham, Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook are close behind, averaging 8.1, 8.1 and 7.8 points, respectively.

Evans ranks sixth in the ACC in assists, with 59 on the season for a 4.2 average. The sophomore also comes in at fifth in free-throw percentage, while Durr ranks sixth.

Carter leads the ACC in three-point field goal percentage (.500) and comes in at fourth nationally.

Notre Dame also boasts a balanced scoring effort with four players in double figures. Ogunbowale leads with 22.8 points, while Shepard falls close behind with 16.3 points. Jackie Young adds 14.5 points per game and Brianna Turner rounds out the double-digit scorers with 11.5 points per game.

Series history

Last season, the Cardinals knocked out the Fighting Irish twice, including an 100-67 win at the KFC Yum! Center just a year ago. Louisville also downed Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament Final in a 74-72 victory.

Despite the dominance of Louisville in 2017-18, however, Notre Dame holds the series record (14-6).

The Cardinals look to change their luck in 2019 by winning their first game at Notre Dame in nearly a decade. Louisville’s last win in South Bend was on Jan. 11, 2009.

However, that will be a tough task as the Fighting Irish know how to protect their home court. Notre Dame has only lost three of its last 105 games at home. Each of the losses were to UConn.

Fast facts

Ranked No. 2 in the latest AP Poll, the Louisville Cardinals reached their highest ranking in program history. Louisville is seeking its first win against a No. 1 team since beating Baylor in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Game information

No. 2 Louisville Cardinals (14-0, 2-0) at No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (14-1, 2-0)

When: Thursday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Purcell Pavilion, South Bend, ID

How to watch: ESPN