Chances were slim that Notre Dame would host No. Duke on New Year's Day

Tom Noie
ND Insider

Earlier this week, one member of the Notre Dame men's basketball program put the chance of opening Atlantic Coast Conference play at home Saturday against No. 2 Duke at ".05 percent."

Turns out that was a little high.

On Wednesday afternoon, the league officially postponed the game, which was supposed to be the final visit to Purcell Pavilion by outgoing Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Duke (11-1; 1-0 ACC) has been involved in coronavirus health/safety protocols this week, which also resulted in the postponement of Wednesday's league game at Clemson.

Note Dame and Duke is a no-go Saturday because of health/safety protocols within the Blue Devils' program.

Duke currently is the only remaining ranked team in the Associated Press Top 25 on Notre Dame's schedule.

The league will look to reschedule the game, but that will be tricky. The conference did not build in additional open dates/bye weeks for its teams this season, as it did last year during the pandemic. Notre Dame lost two home games last season – against Clemson and Georgia Tech – that were originally postponed and never rescheduled.

For the second straight season, it's about more than just basketball for college programs. Teams could play a normal schedule for a few weeks, then be parked in protocols for the next 10 days. Nobody really knows.

"We're in that again," Irish coach Mike Brey said earlier this month. "We know how to do it. That's as much of the strategy as playing against zone or guarding a ball screen, so we're ready to do it again."

Notre Dame had eight games affected by pandemic issues last season, none of them because of issues within the Irish program. Notre Dame was the only team in the 15-team ACC not to have COVID-19 issues within its program in 2020-21.

Coming off Tuesday's win at Pittsburgh, Notre Dame (7-5; 1-1 ACC) will be idle from game action until hosting North Carolina on Jan. 5. The Notre Dame women's program had its conference game Thursday at Virginia postponed because of health/safety protocols with the Cavaliers.

Brey was optimistic following Tuesday's win that the Irish might play Saturday.

"Stay tuned," he said.

Duke currently is one of three ACC schools on a pause in men's basketball because of coronavirus issues. On Monday, there were six schools in some stage of a pause.

Notre Dame is 5-0 at home this season.

Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI