The Fighting Irish will take on the Demon Deacons today at 1 pm ET in Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum on ACCNX. This game will have big impacts on ACC tournament seeding as well as NCAA Tournament seeding. Notre Dame will be attempting to jump into first (even if just for a few hours) in the ACC and Wake Forest will be attempting to stay close with North Carolina and their fourth spot for the final double-bye. Both teams are slotted as 9 seeds in Joe Lunardi’s bracketology and any win is helpful to solify their place. The Demon Deacons come in as six-point favorites following two losses (Miami, Duke) and the Irish come in winners of five straight after a thrilling OT game against Boston College on Wednesday. It’s going to be an early one so I will get straight into it.
I was extremely nervous about this game waking up this morning. When thinking about my prediction, my head said no and my heart said yes. I feel this team can do some special things but my head was telling me that Wake Forest is at home, and statistically the best shooting team (48.77 FG %) the Irish have faced all season. And after what happened on Wednesday I was thinking this could be a hard one. Notre Dame has an offense that can keep up for a time but usually will hit a drought at some point. Then I remembered something that was beginning to take hold before Boston College put up 86 in regulation. This team’s identity is defense, it’s the one constant that has been there for this team all season. The only teams Notre Dame has faced that are better scoring offenses than Wake Forest (Duke, Kentucky) - The Irish were able to hold to some of their lowest point totals on the season. Wake is not a great rebounding team, especially on the offensive boards. If the Irish can get back to their defensive identity and force difficult shots, and clean up on the boards - they can win this game. The frustrating part is their defense on Wednesday was not necessarily bad. Boston College just shot extremely well, which Wake Forest can do.
I’m going out on a limb to say the Irish defense shows out today and helps the Irish get a huge win in Winston-Salem.
Notre Dame: 76 Wake Forest 74