Notre Dame was up 8 against Duke with 11 minutes left in the ACC championship game. The Blue Devils quickly chiseled down their deficit until they had the lead. With a Jayson Tatum and-one dunk in the final seconds, Duke finally pulled away from their challengers. The Blue Devils celebrated as the ACC Champions moments after, but were they really the champions of Saturday night?
Even though Notre Dame lost the championship, the team should not keep their heads down for long. They fought hard up until the very end. With Notre Dame’s tournament run— beating Virginia, Florida St., and falling short of Duke—we learned something very important: The Irish are capable of physically competing with any team in the nation.
Notre Dame is already known for playing together better than most other teams. However, it has always been a question whether they can compete with their lack of athleticism and height. With Saturday night’s loss to Duke, we learned that by challenging one of the most talented teams in the nation the way they did, Notre Dame is legit.
Duke, on the other hand, has always been considered athletic and legit. Consistency and health has been their weaknesses. After Duke’s win last night, health shouldn’t be considered a problem any longer. Guard Grayson Allen seemed to physically perform just fine, and freshman Harry Giles looked better than ever. As far as consistency goes, the Blue Devils just beat Clemson, Louisville, North Carolina, and Notre Dame in four days. A team can’t be any more consistent than that.
Both Notre Dame and Duke, in regards to last night’s epic showdown, should be fully considered as NCAA championship contenders.