If you had told me about the quarter final match-ups at the beginning of the year, I would have this one pegged as the top one. Now…not so much.
Notre Dame made it past Detroit last week by the skin of their teeth. After playing miserably all day, the team pulled a 180 and won in the 4th quarter. Sure they changed to a 10 man ride in the 4th, but that is only part of the reason they won. The other parts were equal amount of desperation and just having a deeper bench. Their passes weren’t crisp, they looked slow on offense and defense…just in a fog.
In the past 3 games, Notre Dame has lost twice to Syracuse and barely escaped Detroit. Through their two losses and 3 of 4 quarters with Detroit, Notre Dame was outscored 10 - 26, outshot 65 - 95, outhustled on ground balls 58 - 86, outplayed on special teams converting 0 of 8 Extra Man Opportunities compared to their opponents 3 of 7, they turned the ball over more (44 - 35), and won less faceoffs (18 - 26). Even if you aren’t a stat guy, those are startling numbers for a “#2″ team
Duke has made it to this round with a double overtime win against Loyola in a thriller of a game. Case Matheis was smooth under pressure scoring the game tying goal (garbage, but a G is a G) with just over a minute left in regulation, and scoring the game winner with about 2 minutes left in the 2nd overtime.
Duke’s offense is rolling. They haven’t scored less than 10 goals in 2 months (March 13). At the Face-Off circle, Brendan Fowler RARELY loses (65%), Kyle Turri is playing better in goal, and the ball just seems to bounce Duke’s way. If I had to pick one thing bad about Duke, it was that they struggled on EMO (2 of 10) against a Loyola team that put alot of laundry on the field.
Earlier in the season, these two teams faced each other in a lopsided win for Notre Dame. That game means nothing, as these teams are not the same ones that met in early February.
Duke is playing well, and making minimal mistakes. While I don’t see them spreading out Notre Dame’s defense or stalling as much as Detroit did, they don’t need it.
With Duke’s offense and dominance of face offs, they have this one in the bag unless Notre Dame finds a truck load of Zoloft on their way to Indianapolis.