Notre Dame took their first loss of the 2016-2017 season losing to former Big East rival, Villanova.
Despite the loss, Notre Dame showed they’re fully capable of hanging with the best team in the country. The Irish held the lead for the entire first-half of the game, most of the second.
Villanova star, Josh Hart, had a career game, finishing with 37 points and 11 rebounds. Hart was basically the only factor in the second-half that gave Villanova the lead. His explosive second half led the Wildcats to near perfection en route to their comeback.
For the Fighting Irish, there’s a lot to take away. For one, V.J. Beachem did not have the game he should have. All season, he’s been a let down to Notre Dame, and it showed against Villanova. He isn’t a bust in 2016-2017, but he’s nowhere near where many believed he would be.
The Irish did reveal a star, though. Matt Farrell has slowly been leading this Notre Dame team all season. Against Villanova, he erupted. The New Jersey native showed the home crowd that he hasn’t lost a step.
Farrell took the Irish to an early lead, and for most of the game, was their biggest factor in holding the lead. To start the game, Farrell went 6-6 including a driving lay-up at the first-half buzzer. He may have only finished with 18 points, but without his play, this game wouldn’t have been close.
While players like Beachem were trying to figure their game out, Farrell was battling with Josh Hart for control. It seemed that these two went shot for shot during most of the game. If one had a great play, the other would drive down the court and top it.
Hart is known around the league as arguably the best player in the country. Watching Farrell match him through most of the game was positive takeaway for the Irish, win or lose.
Notre Dame needs a true leader. They have a bunch of high-quality players that are superb on the court together. There isn’t a part of this team besides their post depth that isn’t solid. What they’ll be looking for late in the season is a player to get them past tight situations.
That player is Matt Farrell. With Beachem underperforming, Farrell has stepped in and shown his worth. The junior guard did everything he needed to do for the Irish. When they needed a big shot, he was there. When momentum shifted towards Villanova, he turned it back around.
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If even one other Notre Dame player was able to have a big game, the Irish would be 10-0. But the game is behind them, and they will look for positive takeaways moving forward.
What they found in this game was their star. Bonzie Colson has been the biggest contributor for Notre Dame this season. But it’s hard to win games when there’s a bunch of good players. Farrell now has the opportunity to become that great player.
Notre Dame may have lost, but they took a huge step in becoming National Champions. The star of Matt Farrell was born against the Wildcats. Now, the Fighting Irish are ready to follow Farrell and let him put the pieces together.
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey knows what it takes to win in college basketball. Don’t be surprised if Farrell is his new superstar. Because what every Final Four team needs is one prominent player to lead the good players around him.
Now, Notre Dame has that player. The Irish may have lost, but they’ve finally finished filling in the pieces of becoming a top tier team.