Saturday’s schedule: Duke-Louisville headlines afternoon
The Duke Blue Devils are struggling. The Louisville Cardinals are looking for their first victory over a team currently ranked in the top 25. On Saturday afternoon, both contenders will have a chance to feel better about their respective seasons.
Duke (14-2, 2-2) sits at No. 4 in the AP Poll but could take a significant tumble down the rankings with a loss to the Cardinals. The Blue Devils have suffered two straight double-digit defeats at the hands of the North Carolina State Wolfpack and Miami Hurricanes. North Carolina State lit up Duke for 87 points including 50 in the second half, shooting 55 percent from the field for the game. Miami followed that up with a 90-point effort at Cameron Indoor Stadium, handing the Blue Devils their first home loss in 41 contests. The Hurricanes also shot north of 50 percent (51.8) while notching 12 steals.
Duke will need to play considerably better against No. 6 Louisville (15-2, 3-1) to have a shot. The Cardinals are 11-1 at home with the only loss coming to the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats. Louisville has one of the best interiors in college basketball. Montrezl Harrell is the key cog inside, buoying the Cardinals with 15.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. The junior from North Carolina will match up with the NBA’s projected No. 1 overall pick in June, Jahlil Okafor. The freshman is dominating the collegiate level, amassing 18.9 points and 9.4 rebounds/game, leading Duke in both categories. In his last three games, Okafor has totaled a double-double in each.
Louisville could be in for a rough stretch without a win here. After hosting Duke, the Cardinals play four of their next five games on the road, with the only home date being a rematch with the No. 15 North Carolina Tar Heels. Louisville lost the previous contest against North Carolina, falling 72-71 in a classic.
Other games to watch
In a terrific PAC-12 showdown, the No. 8 Utah Utes will visit the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats. Utah has not drawn a ton of national attention but could receive plenty of praise by beating Sean Miller’s group. Arizona has scuffled lately, going 3-2 in its last five games.
The No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks take the trip to Ames, Iowa, facing off with the No. 11 Iowa State Cyclones. Kansas in undefeated in Big 12 play this season and is coming off a 10-point win over Oklahoma State. The Cyclones are aiming to rebound from a tough 74-73 loss at Baylor on Wednesday.
- No. 16 West Virginia and No. 20 Texas get together in Austin, giving one team a chance to bolt into the top 15.
- No. 22 Baylor can cap off a nice week by beating a listless Kansas State team.
- No. 14 Maryland plays host to Michigan State. The Terrapins played a great game against the Spartans in their prior contest, winning 68-66 in double-overtime on Dec. 30 at East Lansing, Mich.