The Fighting Irish come into town for a late 9:00 pm contest hot off a four-game win streak. At 15-8 overall and 6-6 in ACC play, the Irish have turned their season around, rattling off wins against Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Pitt, and Clemson. In their next three games, the Irish face three teams that they have a combined 16-63 record against in Virginia, Duke, and UNC.
This is an extremely dangerous offensive team, ranked 25th nationally in offensive efficiency via KenPom, and averaging 76.2 points per game, good for 56th nationwide. In fact, they boast four double digit scorers and eight who score over five points per game.
Notre Dame is led by senior big man John Mooney who rules the paint, averaging 16.5 points per contest to go with 12.9 rebounds. Mooney is a versatile post player who can knock down the occasional outside shot, hitting on 32.4% of his long bombs. Senior guard TJ Gibbs (14.1 PPG) and sophomore guards Prentiss Hubb (11.8 PPG) and Dane Goodwin (11.5 PPG) join Mooney as double-digit scorers. Those three are the team’s primary shooters, as they shoot 41.9%, 34.6%, and 38.8%, respectively, from deep.
As a team, the Irish own a 112.5 adjusted offensive rating via KenPom. Notably, they don’t turn the ball over, at a mere 14.1% turnover rate, good for second nationwide. They’re strong with the ball, and only have it stolen from them on 6.2% of offensive possessions, first in the country. On top of that, they shoot a boatload of threes, upwards of twenty-eight per contest.
So, if Notre Dame is making three-point shots, they’re a difficult offense to contain as they can score in a multitude of ways. From post play, driving the lane, and outside shooting, there’s nothing these Irish can’t do on the offensive end.
Where they’re a bit lacking, though, is defensively where they tend to be inconsistent. They do have length and general athleticism, though, and with both the 6’9” Mooney and 6’11” Juwan Durham in the starting lineup, they can disrupt shooters at the rim to great effect. In fact, Durham is fifteenth in the country in blocked shots rate at 12.2%.
Virginia will win if: They can limit Mooney and keep the Notre Dame guards from getting too many easy baskets. I expect Diakite to get the matchup with Mooney with Huff potentially switching on if Brey decides to go small. On offense, outside shooting will be, as it always is, critical, and if we see some of the recent success, the Cavs will be confident they can come out on top.
Notre Dame will win if: They can hit shots from the outside and play through Mooney enough to keep the Virginia defense honest. On defense, they’ll hope to force Virginia’s guards to beat them.
Score Prediction: Virginia 64 – Notre Dame 57