College Basketball Game of the Week: Louisville vs. Duke
After a great start to the college basketball season, conference play has finally started. Some of the best games this season occurred out of conference, so now it is time for the crazy conference matchup madness to begin. The ACC is one of the top conferences in college basketball, and Saturday’s top-15 matchup between the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils and the No. 11 Louisville Cardinals is going to be a classic.
The last time the Cardinals and Blue Devils met, Duke stormed back from 23 points down in the second half with a memorable performance by Zion Williamson. If this game is anything close to the excitement level of that one, then fans are in for a treat.
The 15-2 Blue Devils have had an amazing season so far, considering the losses of three lottery picks in RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish. It helps that they had center Vernon Carey Jr. and guard Cassius Stanley come in as part of their outstanding recruiting class for this season.
The 6-foot-10-inch Carey Jr. is a monster inside with the ability to stretch the defense by knocking down the three ball. He is just short of averaging a double-double with 17 points and 8 rebounds per game as a true freshman. The 6-foot-6-inch Stanley beat Williamson’s vertical leap record, demonstrating his athletic prowess.
Louisville started the season off hot and has cooled off lately. The Cardinals are 14-3 and first in the ACC, but will be the lower ranked team coming into the matchup with Duke. The one standout player for the Cardinals is stretch forward Jordan Nwora.
The 6-foot-7-inch Nwora is averaging 20 points and 7 rebounds per game in one of the toughest conferences in the nation. His versatility makes him lethal because unlike most college basketball players, teams cannot just anticipate either a drive or a three-point shot. Along with the statistics, he could end up as a Wooden Award Finalist on one of the top teams in the nation.
The matchup between Duke and Louisville will come down to Carey Jr. If the Blue Devils are dominant inside, it will open their three-point shooting and allow the team’s athleticism to take over. Louisville is going to need to stuff the paint, and make Duke shoot the ball well to beat them, to have a chance.
The main wild card in the game is the play of Nwora because of the two sides he has shown this season. The award-winning Nwora can torch the Duke defense and lead the Cardinals to victory. However, a poor performance by him will result in a dominant Duke victory because of the experience advantage.
With the talent on display, the Saturday night showdown has potential to be the best game this season. The Cameron Crazies will be out and ready to provide the energy as always, which will provide the slight edge for Duke.
Prediction: Duke 64, Louisville 60
Ben Geller is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.