Notre Dame basketball looks to earn their second top 25 victory of the season as they take on ACC opponent, Virginia.
After a 9-0 start, 5-0 start in the ACC, and working their way into the top 25 after being a projected 12th seed in the NCAA Tournament, Notre Dame basketball is earning everything they’ve gotten.
Now, at 17-3, 6-1 in the ACC, and 1-3 against top 25 opponents, the Irish are still sitting pretty at the head of the conference and have become one of the most successful teams in the country. For a group of players who were supposed to see little to no success this season, Notre Dame is becoming the story of the year.
As they finish their two-game home stretch before heading to Georgia Tech, the Irish have one goal in mind – Beat #12 Virginia. Not just because it’s another ACC win added to the resume, but because they really need that second top 25 victory.
Virginia Isn’t going to be easy. They are going to be less difficult than Florida State, but by no means will the Cavaliers let Notre Dame breeze by. With their defense, Virginia hasn’t let anyone breeze by.
Notre Dame comes into this game 0-4 against the Cavaliers since joining the ACC. But much like Syracuse, Virginia is going to be faced with the Irish’s best team in years. Behind Matt Farrell and Steve Vasturia, the Irish can score, which is the only way you can beat the Cavaliers.
Virginia’s defense averages 53.2 points allowed per contest, first in the NCAA. Behind London Perrantes and Austin Nichols, the Cavaliers have become the nation’s best defensive unit over the last few seasons.
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Offense isn’t much of a threat for the Irish. They won’t need to focus on slowing down a team who averages 69.6 points per game. What they do need to do is be able to score. Players like V.J. Beachem, Matt Farrell, and Steve Vasturia in the backcourt won’t be able to rely on others to pick up the slack. The way Virginia works is by shutting down the key players on the opposing team. For Notre Dame, they don’t have the depth to pick up the lack of productivity from their stars.
Against Virginia, there’s never matchups to watch. This team doesn’t stick one player on someone for an entire game. They make you guess on offense and force you to make mistakes. Knowing you’ll win if you can score is half the reason the Cavaliers are so successful. When teams start shooting, knowing they can stop Virginia’s offense, they begin to make mistakes. Once they get into a shooting slump, the Cavaliers attack.
If Notre Dame wants to win this game, they need to play slow. Don’t try to outrun the Cavaliers. They way to beat them is by playing smart, once you establish your game, then you can try to make plays. Until then, the Irish need to keep the pace slow and the mistakes to a minimum.
Although their guards are going to want to make plays, Notre Dame should really rely on Bonzie Colson in this one. Virginia’s Isaiah Wilkins is the only member of the team averaging over five rebounds a game (5.6 RPG). On top of that, the Cavaliers are ranked 305th in rebounding this season.
Give the ball to Colson and good things will happen. He may have more pressure on him than usual, and Virginia will definitely try to make him feel uncomfortable in the paint. But when he starts to click, this Notre Dame team will begin to roll.
PREDICTION: Notre Dame finds a way to win, beating Virginia 77-69.
The Irish have offensive firepower. It isn’t there every game, but with the stars the Irish have, they’ll find it in this matchup. Virginia won’t have an answer for Bonzie Colson, and if one or two of the backcourt players starts to go off, the Cavaliers won’t have a chance.
These two teams are made up of fiery underrated players who win by effort. Unfortunately for Virginia, Notre Dame’s players are just as skilled on the offensive end as the defensive.
When it comes down to it, Notre Dame will be able to score and find success. They won’t run away with a blowout victory, but when Farrell and Vasturia start to hit shots, this game will be in the Irish’s hands. If they can force Virginia to play catch up, which they will, the Cavaliers won’t have an answer.