Notre Dame Heads Faces UNC in Important ACC Clash

Notre Dame Basketball
(Photo by Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports)

The Notre Dame Men’s Basketball team (15-10, 5-7 ACC) travels to Chapel Hill, NC to face the North Carolina Tar Heels (19-7, 8-5 ACC) on Monday Night. Additionally, ESPN will air the game as part of their Big Monday Showcase.

Last Time Out

Notre Dame defeated the Seminoles from Florida State on Saturday night 84-69. The team is currently on a two game win streak after a rough patch of the season. The Irish look to continue to gain momentum led by Senior, Matt Farrell.

UNC defeated NC State 96-89 on Saturday evening in Raleigh. Head Coach Roy Williams seems to have the Tar Heels playing their best basketball of the season as they look to build on their current three game winning streak.

UNC defeated the Irish 69-68 the last time the two teams faced off this season.

A Quick Turnaround

Both UNC and the Irish have been quite busy in ACC play in the past week. Notre Dame is playing their 3rd game in 7 days.  Whereas, the Tar Heels are playing their 3rd game in 5 days.

Notre Dame Keys to the Game

Hold Carolina under 75 points – UNC is averaging 83 points a game on the season and has been quite efficient on offense as of late. Additionally, The Tar Heel rank 11th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom advanced statistics. Finally, last time the two teams faced off, the Notre Dame was able to keep Carolina in check defensively holding them to just 69 points.

Limit Transition Baskets – Roy Williams coached teams are known for getting out in transition and looking to score easy baskets. As a result, the big guys for UNC tend to run the floor with excellent pace. Consequently, it will be incredibly important for Martinas Geben, Austin Torres, John Mooney, and Elijah Burns to sprint back on defense.

Rebounding – Another common staple of Roy Williams coached teams is their ability to dominate on the boards. Just as it will be important for Geben, Torres, Mooney, and Burns to get back on defense, it will be equally important for them to do a great job on both the defensive and offensive boards. In the previous contest against Carolina, ND out rebounded the Tar Heels 45-37. They will need a similar effort tonight if they expect a victory.

Scoring from X-Factor – Someone other than Farrell and Gibbs will need to score for the Irish. Look for Geben, Pflueger, Mooney, or Djogo to pick up the slack on the offensive end.

Keys for UNC

Limit Farrell and Gibbs – Since the injury to Bonzie Colson, most of the scoring for Notre Dame comes from Gibbs and Farrell. The duo is averaging 33 points per game combined. Farrell missed the last game between the two teams. However, Gibbs scored 19 points in the previous meeting.

Limit 3 point scoring – In recent games, the Irish have done a great job shooting the 3. Other than consistency from Farrell and Gibbs, a third individual has been able to step up from deep. Carolina will need to limit the number of three’s the Irish make in hopes of victory.

Final Thoughts

The current spread favors Carolina by 10 points. I expect a much closer, hard-fought game. Additionally, I expect the “stars of the game” to get their usual points. For Notre Dame, the questions will be who will step up besides Farrell and Gibbs. For UNC, other than Berry and Maye, where will their additional points come from. Finally, I expect a quality hard-fought game that comes down to the final couple if minutes to determine the winner.

Stay tuned to @ISC_ND and @tborg3 for more updates and a post game recap.

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