Duke vs Louisville
When: 2:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 9, 2017
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn
BROOKLYN – (Special Preview to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – A year after a self-imposed postseason ban, Louisville returns to the ACC tournament as the fourth seed and with a chip on its shoulder. The ninth-ranked Cardinals begin tourney play Thursday afternoon in Brooklyn, N.Y. with a quarterfinal matchup against 14th-ranked and No. 5 seed Duke.
“The theme this year was going in there and playing our butts off because last year we didn’t get that opportunity,” sophomore guard Donovan Mitchell told the New York Post. “We’re excited to be back and get ready to get to the national championship, hopefully.” Mitchell was selected to the ACC’s first team after leading Louisville in scoring (15.9) and the conference in steals (2.1) as a stalwart for one of the league’s top defenses. The Cardinals showcased some of that defensive prowess by forcing 18 turnovers in a 78-69 win over the Blue Devils during the regular season. Duke had lost three of four before opening the tournament with a 79-72 win over Clemson in the second round Wednesday, riding three 20-point scorers.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, ESPN, ACC Network
ABOUT DUKE (24-8): ACC first-team selection Luke Kennard and freshmen Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson were the three to reach 20 points in Wednesday’s win and senior forward Amile Jefferson recorded his eighth double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Controversial guard Grayson Allen continues to nurse a sore ankle and was scoreless in 12 minutes as he cedes more playing time to Jackson, who is averaging 18.3 points over his last four games. “I like to score the ball,” Jackson told reporters Wednesday. “It’s what I do best. I’m lucky to have a coach who allows me to be myself and players that I’m surrounded by that give me all the confidence in the world.”
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (24-7): Junior guard Quentin Snider ranks second to Mitchell in scoring with 12.6 per game and the pair combined to make 128 3-pointers during the regular season, including seven in a 71-64 win over Notre Dame on Saturday. Senior forward Mangok Mathiang came on strong in the final week of the season with two straight double-doubles, averaging 15 points and 10.5 rebounds. Junior forward Anas Mahmoud shoots 61.9 percent from the field and had his lone double-double (17 points, 11 boards) in the earlier win over Duke.
1. Allen had team highs of 23 points and nine rebounds in the loss at Louisville.
2. Louisville is 0-1 in ACC tournament play, having lost in the quarterfinal to North Carolina two seasons ago in its debut campaign in the conference.
3. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is tied with Dean Smith for the most career wins in the ACC tournament with 58.