After a sluggish first ten minutes, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (specifically VJ Beachem) found their offensive rhythm and took care of business with an 82-66 win over the Boston College Eagles on Wednesday night.
The win pushed Notre Dame’s win streak to six heading in to their last regular season game at Louisville on Saturday. The Irish honored their seniors prior to the game before closing their home schedule with a win. Here’s what we learned.
The Irish have set themselves up nicely in the ACC
With Wednesday night’s win, Notre Dame sits in second place in the ACC with one game remaining in the regular season. North Carolina is the only team that stands in front of the Irish, and the Tar Heels have already clinched at least a share of the conference title.
However, if the Irish were to escape Louisville with a tough road win (and the Cardinals have struggled against ranked opponents), and North Carolina loses to Duke on Saturday, the Irish would lock up a share of the regular season title.
It will be tough for both of these scenarios to pan out, especially because North Carolina is home for the Duke game. Still, despite the uphill climb to first place, the Irish have all but solidified a double bye in the ACC Tournament next week.
Notre Dame escaped a slow start, but will have much more trouble doing so in March
This marks the second time that the Irish stumbled out of the gates against Boston College this season. The Irish were trailing by as much as seven over midway through the first half before putting together a very Notre Dame-like 15-0 over a six minute span to take control. Boston College clawed their way back in the first few minutes of the second half before the Irish pulled away for good.
Thanks to Notre Dame’s electric offense, they are able to overcome a bad stretch against arguably the worst team in the ACC. However, sloppy spurts such like this could be a death sentence for the Irish when March Madness arrives. Overcoming a tough stretch against Boston College is one thing. Overcoming a tough stretch against a tournament team with the season on the line is quite another.
VJ Beachem will be crucial to Notre Dame’s tournament hopes
Just like a tough stretch could doom Notre Dame’s bid for a third straight Elite Eight, a prolific scoring stretch from their playmakers could provide the path to another three NCAA Tournament wins. We have seen teams ride the momentum wave of their scorching hot point guard or lethal shooter to Final Fours before, and the Irish have a weapon that can lead the way.
Beachem was lights out in his last home game, scoring 22 points on 8-17 shooting, including 4-10 from beyond the arc. It was Beachem’s shooting that led the Irish to a thrilling comeback win against Michigan in last year’s NCAA Tournament, and if he could catch fire from the floor and be the legitimate playmaker that he is capable of being, then the Irish may be in good shape for the postseason.