The newest AP rankings are out, and they see the Irish continuing to climb the ladder towards the top ten. Despite a loss this week, Notre Dame moved up one spot in the latest rankings from 15th to 14th, and are ranked 12th in the newest Coaches Poll.
AP Basketball Top 25
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Considering their loss was in Tallahassee at the hands of sixth ranked Florida State, it is not surprising at all that the Irish still moved up in the rankings (that really don’t mean much, but they’re a fun measuring stick) this week. The Domers fell just short of a fantastic road win, scoring 13 points in the final two minutes before bowing to the Seminoles in what was a thrilling 83-80 finish. It was a deflating loss, but if we are looking at it with a glass-half-full approach, the Irish showed they are a legitimate force to capture their second ACC crown this year.
If I told you that a team committed 18 turnovers on the road to a top ten team and lost by just three points, you probably wouldn’t believe me. If I told you that a team shot 15-21 from beyond the arc and lost, you still wouldn’t believe me.
Well, both of these happened on Wednesday against Florida State. Notre Dame was unconscious from beyond the arc, shooting at an incredible 71% clip. It is an unbelievable mark, but a mark that is easier to fathom from this Irish team than committing 18 turnovers to a Florida State defense that is good but not elite. It was an uncharacteristically sloppy performance from and Irish team that entered the game third best in the nation in turnover rate. They leaned on their sharp shooting to keep them in the game, and it isn’t hard to fathom that in a neutral site (like in the ACC tournament), we would see a more favorable outcome from the Irish. I consider the high turnover mark an anomaly.
What is not an anomaly is the resilience of this team. They weren’t able to come away with another win in the final minutes against Florida State (and news flash, no team in the country could play that many nail-biters in the ACC and win them all), but they were able to return to South Bend and get right back to business in the form of an 84-66 thumping of Syracuse on Saturday.
The Irish did not carry over the disappointment from their loss to the Seminoles, but they did bring back their hot shooting touch, particularly VJ Beachem, who was an absolute nightmare for the Syracuse defense. Beachem scored a career-high 30 points in a number of different ways for the Irish, which opened up the rest of the offense to help run away from a Syracuse team still trying to figure out how to win on the road. With the always stingy Virginia defense on deck this week for the Irish, they will need to see the version of Beachem that they were blessed with on Saturday. If Beachem can take over the game on offense and continue to build solid chemistry with Matt Farrell, the Irish should be able to continue conquering their demons as they did against Syracuse and finally figure out the Cavaliers.
The Irish played a physically superior Seminoles team on the road and had a chance to win the game in the final minutes of the second half, despite playing what was arguable their sloppiest game of the year in terms of ball security. They quickly turned the page and smoked a team they were supposed to beat. This all adds up to a positive week for the Irish that serves as a solid measuring stick for where they stand among the other top teams in the ACC.