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Key three: Duke men's basketball cannot overlook Notre Dame

Tre Jones' perimeter defense will be a key against Notre Dame's 3-point centric offense
Tre Jones' perimeter defense will be a key against Notre Dame's 3-point centric offense

After taking down No. 8 Florida State this past Monday, Duke stays home to host Notre Dame Saturday at 4 p.m. The Blue Zone breaks down three keys if the Blue Devils want to extend their win streak to seven: 

Ride the wave

After a 48 hours that will go down in the annals of Duke basketball history, the Blue Devils will be coming off a much-needed five days of rest when they take on the Fighting Irish. Every championship team has a defining moment in its season that elevates it above other elite competitors, so it will be interesting to see if Duke can use the momentum from its miraculous 48 hours to cruise into March. The Blue Devils have put their fans in for a rollercoaster of a ride this season, looking like an overwhelming favorite to cut the net one week and then a dysfunctional mess the next. 

If Duke can fully flip the script on Saturday against Notre Dame, it will be hard to say who can stop this team when it is firing on all cylinders. 

Get it done

Duke is still very much in the running for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but it will need to take care of business against Notre Dame. With the season winding down, the Blue Devils cannot afford another nail-biter against a vastly inferior opponent. Notre Dame leads the ACC in 3-point field goals made per game, and while Duke does have the best 3-point defense in the ACC, holding opponents to only 28.5 percent shooting from deep, it will need to be weary of someone like Fighting Irish senior guard T.J. Gibbs getting a hot hand and making for a stressful night. 

Hard-nosed defense will go a long way Saturday, as the Fighting Irish also lead the country in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.74. The swift hands of Jordan Goldwire and Tre Jones will be essential in knocking Notre Dame out of rhythm and enforcing the Blue Devil brand of basketball. 

What kind of team is Notre Dame?

On the surface, Notre Dame looks like an average, middling ACC team that it is, with its 6-7 conference record doing the Fighting Irish no favors in consideration for a bid into the NCAA tournament. Regardless, if a few shots had gone Notre Dame's way, we could be looking at an above average ACC team with a secure spot into March Madness.The Fighting Irish lost to Florida State and Louisville by a total of four points, proving this squad can hang with the best.

Duke has already shown that it is more than capable of letting the underdog ride off into the sunset, and Notre Dame is more than a typical underdog. There should be no underestimation of the Fighting Irish heading into this matchup. 

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