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Notre Dame Basketball: Louisville Preview - Round 2

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With a little help, Notre Dame can win the ACC, but they need a victory over Louisville first.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-2nd Round- Louisville vs USF Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Just a month ago No. 19 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (23-7, 12-5 ACC) were in the midst of a four-game losing streak, were 17-7 and sitting at sixth place in the ACC. Fast forward a month later and the Irish have won six in a row and just a game out of first place. In fact, there is still a possibility that Notre Dame can win the ACC regular season title. If Notre Dame can pull out a victory over the No. 8 Louisville Cardinals (23-7, 11-6 ACC) and Duke beats North Carolina on Saturday night, the Irish will share the ACC title with the Tar Heels.

Notre Dame is coming off a 82-66 thumping of Boston College on senior night on Wednesday. On the other hand, Louisville is coming off a 88-81 disappointing loss to Wake Forest on Wednesday. With the loss, Louisville now does not have a chance to win the ACC title.

These two schools met back at the beginning of the conference season. Notre Dame came away with a 77-70 victory. Notre Dame and Louisville seem to always play tight games. With so much on the line, don’t expect anything different this time around.

Game Notes

  • Louisville leads the all-time series 20-15
  • Notre Dame is 3-12 all-time at Louisville
  • Notre Dame has won all three matchups as ACC opponents
  • As conference opponents Notre Dame is 8-8 against Louisville
  • Louisville is ranked 8th on KenPom.com, Notre Dame is 25th
  • Louisville is 22nd in adjusted offensive efficiency, and 7th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
  • Notre Dame current six conference game winning streak is the fourth longest in the Mike Brey era
  • The Notre Dame senior class is four wins away from becoming the all-time winningest class in Notre Dame history. The class of 2012-2013 is the leader with 97 wins
  • With a win over Louisville, and a UNC loss, Notre Dame will share the ACC regular season crown with North Carolina
  • VegasInsider.com has Louisville as the favorite at -8

When: Saturday, March 4th, 2017 2:00pm CT

Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY

How to Watch: CBS

No. 8 Louisville Cardinals (23-7, 11-6 ACC)

Louisville has enjoyed a very successful season to date. They have wins over Purdue, Kentucky and Duke. As of right now Rick Pitino’s squad is slated to be a two seed according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. It’s hard to see them rising much higher than that, but if they want to maintain the status of a two seed, they will need to win on Saturday and have some success in the ACC Tournament.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

This Louisville team is long and athletic, the exact same type of team that is supposed to bother Notre Dame. Although, Notre Dame has already beaten the Cards, as well as Florida State.

Quentin Snider has been on a tear since returning from an injury that sidelined him for six games earlier this season.

Sophomore Donovan Mitchell has played like an All-ACC performer all year long. He leads the Cards in PPG with 15.8.

Sophomore forward Deng Adel has really emerged since the last time these schools met. In the last 15 games Adel is averaging over 10.5 PPG, including a 22 and 17 point performances his last two games.

Three Weaknesses

Fouling: Louisville commits around 19.5 fouls per game, which ranks 217th nationally.

Free throw defense: Opponents are also shooting 22 foul shots against them this year — 259 nationally. They This should bode well for the nation’s best free throw shooting team in Notre Dame. The Irish were 22-25 from the line in the first meeting.

Transition Offense: The Cards rank 257th in opponents FG% in transition. They are also allowing opponents to get 20% of their shots in transition, that ranks 180th nationally. Notre Dame has been very good in transition this season, shooting better than 61% on the break.

Three Strengths

Three-point Defense: Opponents shoot just 30% from the outside vs. Louisville, that ranks 15th nationally. As we well know, Notre Dame’s success is largely predicated on how well or not they shoot the three.

Rim Protection: Louisville has blocked 16.5% of its opponents shots at the rim this season, which ranks 20th nationally. They also rank sixth nationally in block percentage.

Scoring Defense: The Cards do a great job of limiting points, as they are giving up an average of 65 PPG — 35th nationally. If they can keep Notre Dame in the 60s to low 70s, they should have a good chance of pulling of a victory. If it becomes a shootout though, the Irish should be the favorite then.

Cardinals to Watch

Donovan Mitchell - 6’3, Guard, Sophomore

Mitchell leads the Cards in scoring, minutes and steals. He has 20 points in the first matchup with the Irish on 7-20 shooting. He also dished out five assists and hauled in four rebounds. In his four games prior to the Wake Forest loss, Mitchell was averaging 22 PPG. The Demon Deacons held him to just seven points. Expect him to bounce back against the Irish.

Anas Mahmoud - 7’0”, Forward, Junior

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Boston College Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Mahmoud doesn’t fill up the stat sheet, but he’s the best rim protector Louisville has. He had six blocks in the meeting in South Bend. Junior forward Bonzie Colson has dealt with guys bigger than himself all year and has produced, don’t expect anything different against the likes of Mahmoud and Co.

Quentin Snider - 6’2”, Guard, Junior

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Snider had just 12 points on 4-12 shooting in the first matchup, but as mentioned before he’s come on strong since returning from injury. Since his return, Snider is averaging 13.6 points and 4.0 assists per game. He’s also perhaps Louisville’s most consistent three-point shooter as he’s shooting 38% from long range. He’s also averaging two made threes per game. We’ll have another good point guard matchup between Snider and Notre Dame’s Matt Farrell.

Pick to Click

Matt Farrell - 6’1”, Guard, Junior

I’m sticking to my pick here. Farrell had a huge game in the first matchup. He went for 22 points on 6-15 shooting, 2-4 from three and 8-9 from the foul line. Notre Dame will need a similar performance in the KFC Yum! Center.

Prediction

Louisville 73 - Notre Dame 69

If Louisville wouldn’t have lost on Wednesday, I would have felt a little bit better about this one. I don’t see the Cards losing two straight, especially the second one coming at home.

V.J. Beachem had a fantastic outing last time out against Boston College. As much as I would love for him to follow it up with another one, I just don’t see it happening. He’s been so streaky this season that I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s a non-factor.

Other the hand, Bonzie Colson will make one last push for the ACC Player of the Year, even if it comes in a losing effort.

Also if Notre Dame wants any chance of my prediction being wrong...WEAR THE GOLD JERSEYS!