The No. 21 Duke Blue Devils are fighting to break out of the middle of the pack in the ACC, but face a difficult task Sunday at 3 p.m. ET in the No. 5 Louisville Cardinals.
Duke is coming off a loss to its rival, UNC, and has struggled against Top 25 teams, going 1-2 this season. There has been a common thread in all of their losses: poor shooting and offensive production. Their loss against UNC was no different as they lost 78-62, shooting 38 percent from the field and 28 percent from three. Another performance like that on Sunday and the Blue Devils (4-4 ACC) will be sub .500 in conference play.
Duke will be relying on Shayeann Day-Wilson and Elizabeth Balogun to lead the charge offensively. They’ll have a tall order on the defensive side of the ball as well, trying to contain Louisville’s guard combo of Hailey Van Lith and Kianna Smith.
Louisville is having another spectacular season. It is 17-2 overall (7-1 ACC) and has a solid offense led by Van Lith, Smith, Emily Engstler, and Olivia Cochran. Those players will be hard to contain for four quarters. Coach Jeff Walz has the Cardinals in prime position for another NCAA tournament run. They’ll need to continue taking care of business in the ACC before that.
The Cards’ only two losses were against No. 8 Arizona in their season opener and No. 3 NC State last week.
No. 5 Louisville Cardinals (17-2, 7-1 ACC) vs. No. 21 Duke Blue Devils (13-5, 4-4 ACC)
When: Sunday, Jan. 30 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, KY
Key to the matchup: Duke has to get going early offensively. It needs a big game from rookie sensation Shayeann Day-Wilson if it wants to upset the Cardinals. The Blue Devils also have to find a way to slow down the bigs the Cardinals have, keep them off the glass, and prevent them from filling up the stat sheet. Louisville is in the driver’s seat of this mathcup. If it can dominate the boards and keep its offense well-balanced, it should be able to overwhelm the Blue Devils with its stacked starting five.