Notre Dame basketball has lost three of their last four games and is now 6-4 in the ACC. But their biggest test of the season is coming this Saturday.
Outside of Duke, North Carolina may be the ACC’s most built team. In every aspect of the game, the Tar Heels are covered with some of the best players in the country. On top of that, their coach is healthy, and they’re leading the conference.
What makes North Carolina so dangerous is their combination of guards and forwards. From Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks to Joel Berry and Isiah Hicks, this Tar Heel team has more superstars than most of the country.
For Notre Dame, they are known as a team with no stars. Matt Farrell, V.J. Beachem and Bonzie Colson are some of the most scrappy players in the country. But none of them are NCAA superstars. In fact, the Irish’s struggles this season have come from trouble finding a playmaker when it’s needed.
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By no means are the Irish in danger because of their lack of stars. They have a set of core players like no other in the country. This group of men has battled neck and neck with some of the best teams in the NCAA, and although they haven’t won more than once, they’ve proven they can compete with the best.
This game means more to Notre Dame than any this season. They’re in a slump. The biggest funk of their season. With nine games left, the Irish need to win a few more impressive games before the ACC tournament. Without them, the Irish are looking at a much lower seed in the NCAA Tournament than they’d like.
When March comes, Notre Dame is going to be just fine. The Irish are built to win in the tournament. With scrappy, talented players, they’ll be one of the biggest Cinderella stories of the year. But making sure you don’t fall into the lower half of the seeds is important. It’s a lot harder to make a tournament run is a lot easier when you don’t need to play the #1 seed within three games.
North Carolina isn’t important because of talent or a conference win. The Tar Heels are Notre Dame’s most important game because it’s what they need to stay towards the top. After their loss to Duke, they’ll likely fall out of the top 25 if they don’t barely remain in. One win against UNC and Notre Dame is right back in it.
It’s too late in the season to compete for a top 10 finish. In fact, the Irish aren’t looking at a top 15 finish if they don’t win most of their remaining season. Which is totally okay considering they’ve done enough already to win a few more games and get into the NCAA Tournament.
Right now, their goal is to stay towards the top half of the seeds. A win over North Carolina and that’s almost certain.