Fans of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team are likely about to hurl at this point in the 2020-21 roller coaster ride. At its best moments, this Irish team looks like it could win the ACC; at its worst it looks like it doesn’t even belong in the conference. This inconsistency manifested most recently in a devastating loss to the Syracuse Orange in the Carrier Dome on Saturday night, a game where Notre Dame led by as many as 20 in the second half but nonetheless found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
It was not the first such loss for the Irish, who would be sitting above the .500 mark and still in decent shape in the ACC standings if they were simply able to close out games after taking commanding leads. Instead, the Irish fell to two games below even in both their overall and ACC marks (9-11, 6-8), and now must go on the road to take on the Louisville Cardinals (11-5, 6-4).
The good news for Irish fans is that the Cardinals are more vulnerable than their record indicates. Louisville missed about three weeks of play due to COVID-19 and absolutely looked the part in their first game back on Saturday, getting demolished by the North Carolina Tar Heels to the tune of 99-54.
However, the Cards still field a talented and dangerous team, and are favored to beat the Irish for precisely that reason. Expect to see the Irish guards challenged by the efficient backcourt duo of Carlik Jones and David Johnson, while Juwan Durham and Nate Laszewski contend with Samuell Williamson and Dre Davis in the paint.
Overall, this is a winnable game for the Irish - and a must-win if they are to obtain a decent seed in the ACC tournament - but it isn’t going to be an easy one.
WHEN, WHERE, AND HOW TO WATCH
When: Tuesday, February 23, 7:00 PM CST
Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY
How to watch: ACC Network
You know the drill by now - this comments section is your game thread. Send your thoughts, prayers and rants here, and go Irish!