As football season begins to wind down and Brian Kelly looks to capture his third-straight 10-win season, basketball season no so quietly gets underway on Wednesday night. Mike Brey and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish get thrown to the fire right away, as they open up the season on the road against No. 9 North Carolina Tar Heels. The ACC moved to a 20-game slate this season and with the ACC Network just being launched, a handful conference games are being played early this season.
The Irish were picked seventh in the ACC preseason poll, thanks to a promising sophomore class and veterans such as John Mooney, TJ Gibbs, Rex Pflueger and Juwan Durham. Notre Dame should be improved from last year’s squad, but going into Chapel Hill in game one is a tall task.
- Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 7 PM ET
- Dean Smith Center — Chapel Hill, N.C.
- ACC Network (Learn how to watch HERE)
- North Carolina is a -10.5 point favorite according to VegasInsider.com
- The first time the Irish will begin the season on the road against an ACC opponent.
- The first time the ACC will begin the season with 14 opponents playing seven conference games to kick off the college basketball season.
- The first time Notre Dame will face a ranked opponent in a season opener since 1999-2000.
- The first season the ACC will play 20 league games and two league games before the first of the year (the Irish also will face Boston College at home on December 7).
- Notre Dame has only started a season on the road 13 times since 1923-24 and own a three-game streak of season-opening victories away from Purcell Pavilion. The Irish won vs. Loyola Chicago at Allstate Arena in 1992-93, at No. 4/6 Ohio State in 1999-2000 and at DePaul in 2017-18. See page 3 for more details.
(Notes courtesy of UND.com)
North Carolina comes into the season ranked No. 9 with loads of promise. The Tar Heels were picked to finish second in the ACC behind hated rival Duke. Head Coach Roy Williams has a talented roster headlined by freshman sensation, Cole Anthony. As some of you may remember, Anthony had Notre Dame on his short list coming out of high school, but ultimately chose the Tar Heels. UNC does lose their five top scorers from last season, so the Irish could be getting UNC at the right time, as it could take a few games before the Tar Heels really start to gel.
Tar Heels to Watch
Cole Anthony – Freshman, Guard, 6’3″
Anthony, the son of Greg Anthony, was the #4 overall recruit according to Rivals and some think he may be the best freshman in the country this season. In UNC’s only preseason tilt, Anthony scored 11 points, dished out seven assists and pulled down five boards.
Garrison Brooks – Junior, Forward, 6’8″
Brooks, a former top 150 recruit, figures to play a bigger role for UNC this season as he enters his junior year. He started all 36 games last season for Roy Williams, while averaging 7.9 PPG and 5.6 RPG. In the preseason, Brooks led the squad with 18 points on 8-10 from the field. It’ll be a good matchup between Brooks and ND’s frontcourt of John Mooney and Juwan Durham.
Like most people, I expect the Irish to be improved this season and possibly make the NCAA Tournament, but I don’t see them walking into Chapel Hill and winning this one. I actually do like the Irish to cover the +10.5. It’s UNC’s first game, and they have a rather inexperienced team so it could take some time for them to gel. I think this could be a reason why the Irish can hang with the ‘Heels for a while.
It will be interesting to see which TJ Gibbs we’ll get. He was not particularly impressive in ND’s two exhibition games, as he shot a combined 3-17 from the field. Much of Notre Dame’s success could ride on the play of Gibbs this season.
North Carolina 74 - Notre Dame 67
Season Record: 0-0 (0-0 ATS)