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ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Quarterfinals: Notre Dame VS Virginia Tech Prediction

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Can the Irish avenge their January loss to earn a spot in the semifinals?

Pittsburgh v Notre Dame Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

After a great start to March madness, Notre Dame gets going today against a hot Virginia Tech team. The Irish and the Hokies will face off tonight in the Barclays Center at 7 pm ET on ESPN2 for a spot in the semifinals against either Virginia or North Carolina. At this time the Irish are 1 point dogs in their opening game in the ACC Tournament. The Hokies beat Notre Dame in their lone matchup this season in Blacksburg 79-73.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 15 Notre Dame at Virginia Tech Photo by Brian Bishop/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After starting 10-10 on the season (2-7 in ACC play), the Hokies are 10-2 and looked like one of the hottest teams heading into March. As of this morning, Joe Lunardi has them pitted as a “next four out” team for the NCAA Tournament. They are by no means a team you can 100% rule out though. They are in a dangerous mode of every win being big step toward being in the dance.

Virginia Tech was able to weather a comeback by the Clemson Tigers last night and hit a massive shot at the buzzer to win in OT.

While their offense is not elite scoring-wise, their average field goal percentage on the season is 54.9% (39% from 3) and their defense only gives up 61.7 ppg. This team can give the Irish trouble, and they did back in January. The Irish’s tendencies of going on scoring droughts is the thing that worries me the most after watching Virginia Tech and Clemson last night (while also reflecting on Notre Dame’s last game against them). If the Irish offense goes into a slump, the Hokies are a team who can steadily continue to make their shots and keep them at arm’s length. Notre Dame has had a problem with losing a lead due to long periods of bad shooting and not being able to quite get back into it by the time the buzzer sounds. In their last matchup against Virginia Tech, they lost an 8 point halftime lead to lose by 6.

This is a very hard one for me, everything points to a Virginia Tech victory tonight. They have everything to play for, they are hot right now, it’s a bad matchup for the Irish, the double-bye could be a hindrance against a team rolling like this, and the only other teams that gave them problems throughout this run were North Carolina (who is another hot team right now) and Clemson (who gave them an L on Saturday and battled back hard last night). My head is screaming at me to pick the Hokies. For some reason, I have this calm deep down when I think about watching this game though. I think Notre Dame is going to have payback on their minds from January 15th when they let that game get away. Yes, it could be a bad matchup but the teams who have been able to lock down defensively (especially beyond the arc) have been able to keep the Hokies FG % and ppg down and I think the Irish can do that. If they can couple that with a steady offensive performance tonight I think Notre Dame moves on.

Boston College v Notre Dame Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

I’m really going with my heart on this one.

Prediction

Notre Dame 71, Virginia Tech 67