Time: 4:02 ET
— Chris Mack (@CoachChrisMack) January 23, 2021
Vegas Line: Louisville -3.5
The Louisville Cardinals are at home today looking for a bounce back win over the Duke Blue Devils at the KFC Yum! Center. Both teams will be looking to break a two-game losing streak. Louisville is 3-3 all-time at home against Duke. The Cards are 3-5 against the Blue Devils since joining the ACC.
Louisville most recently lost at home to Florida State on Monday night 78-65. Louisville never led once in the game and trailed by double digits for the majority of both halves. The Cards’ undersized lineup was no match for the Seminoles. Saturday’s matchup will not be quite as lopsided, but it its still one similar to those that have given Louisville trouble all season.
Duke could start as man as three players 6-8 or taller with the return of Jalen Johnson. Johnson, a freshman and former five-star recruit, returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing the previous six weeks. He put up an impressive 24 point, 15 rebound, and 7 assist performance in a losing effort. Duke was already going to have the advantage inside, but Johnson’s presence on the wing is a huge development for this Duke team.
As has been the case in just about every game this season, Louisville’s clear advantage on Saturday will come from the backcourt. While Carlik Jones has remained one of the most reliable players in the entire nation, David Johnson has not been as consistent in recent weeks. Coming off a 15 point, 8 rebound performance against Florida State, he will look to keep that up on Saturday against an undersized Duke backcourt. It was just one year ago Earlier this week was the one year anniversary of Johnson’s break out performance on the road at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Jae’Lyn Withers has emerged as the clear third option on this Louisville team. Some of the box scores might challenge the narrative that the Cards are in desperate need of some consistent help outside of Jones, Johnson, and now Withers. Still though, every game there are long stretches where everything falls apart offensively and Carlik is the only one able to do anything on that end.
Duke is not the best matchup for Louisville. It is the type of tall team that Louisville has struggled against every time this year in spite of any backcourt advantage. This matchup is not on the same level as Wisconsin or Florida State, though. This is a very winnable game for the home team.
Things might seem desperate in Louisville after two straight losses, but the Cards are still 9-3 and in good position for a postseason berth. Duke is 5-4 and has not beaten one good team all season. In fact, the Blue Devils have just one win against a team with a winning record. One program needs a win much more than the other. Both teams are in danger of dropping their third straight. Who will want it more on Saturday?
Louisville 74 Duke 72