Louisville comes to town to renew what has been one of the best rivalries in the last decade. Since the Cards joined the Big East in the 2005-06 season, UL and ND have played 15 games as conference foes. The Cards lead 8-7 overall, but the Irish have not lost in five games in Purcell. Of course, everyone will remember the game I stormed out of in disgust as the Cards led 55-48 with less than a minute left in regulation…the 104-101 Irish win in 5 OTs in 2013. Completely embarrassing on my part, but the first 39 minutes of that game may have been the worst offensive performance by two teams I have seen live. Still no excuse.
While I didn’t see any overtimes in person that evening, ND and Louisville have went to overtime in 7 of the 15 games conference games since 2006 (including 13 OTs total). That’s what you call an excellent rivalry. Yet, ND is stuck playing Boston College and Georgia Tech twice every year, even though Louisville is a simple 4+ hour drive from the Bend. I get BC, but GT as the second designated rival? Come on.
Louisville’s designated rivals are Pitt (they had multiple rock fights in the Big East) and Virginia (they both are really good at defense?). Is the ACC trying to make up rivalries like Bob Diaco, and his UConn/UCF nonsense?
Or did the ACC give ND two of the perennial bottom feeders because it is a football school and only a part-time ACC member?
Let’s go back to the 1990s really quick. ND and Louisville would play every now and again when the Irish were absolutely horrible. As a youngster, I still remember Keith Kurowski hitting a bomb at the JACC to send yet another UL/ND game to overtime. It was the ’90s, so of course the Irish ended up losing.
But back to the point, I would love to see Louisville on the schedule twice a year, every year. This year, the Irish finish the regular season in the YUM!!!!!! Center, so we get what we should get every year.
Five Things to Know About Louisville
1. Louisville may need to fire whoever is in charge of their schedule. The Cards face their fourth straight ranked opponent, and have impressive non-conference wins against Kentucky and Indiana sandwiched around a home loss to Virginia in their ACC opener.
2. Donovan Mitchell is their leading scorer at just over 12 points per game, and he responded to a Pitino benching with 25 points against IU on Saturday. Pretty sure he will be back in the starting lineup tonight.
3. Louisville is huge. They have four guys, 6’9 or taller, who average 18+ minutes per game. They average a combined 22 rebounds and 6 blocks per game.
4. Expect a good amount of zone from the Irish, as Brey had some success with it on Saturday, and UL shoots 33.1% from deep. That’s…not good.
5. Common opponent: Louisville beat Purdue by seven at home in the ACC/Big 14 challenge. Of course, the Irish blew a 17-point lead against the Boilers in Indy.
Ten Stats to Impress Your Buddies
1. Stove was brutal for the first 39 minutes on Saturday, but did he ever pick it up down the stretch. A drive to the tin lead to two FTs to tie it in regulation, and then he played a role in all 10 points in OT (scoring 8 himself). Of course, this triple was a pretty big shot.
2. The Bonz leads the ACC in double-doubles after another 21/14 against Pitt. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman currently has The Bonz as a second team All-American.
3. I don’t know what to say about Beach anymore. Six points on 3-10 shooting (0-5 from deep) against Pitt, though he did have a hell of a block to help get the game to OT. The message boards are calling for him to get less playing time given the solid play of Pflueger and Gibbs, but I’m still in the camp that Beach needs to shoot his way out of it for this team to do any damage in March. Brey knows that.
4. Quietly, Big Marty has put together some solid basketball in the last few weeks. He almost registered his first double-double of his career with 10/9 against Pitt in a career-high 28 minutes. He’s gaining confidence in his Junior year, just like many Irish bigs have in the last 10 years.
5. After starting the season playing 200+ minutes without a turnover, Pflueger now has three in his last two games.
6. I outlined that Matt Ryan had two rebounds in 49 minutes against quality competition going into the Pitt game. He matched that total with two on Saturday, including a tough offensive rebound in traffic (though he did lose a couple out of bounds leading to some choice words at my television).
7. The Irish trailed by five with two minutes to play in both regulation and overtime. This team has some grit.
8. Brey sat both of his seniors when Pitt led 49-44 with just over 13 to play. The Irish immediately went on a 16-3 run to take a 60-52 lead, with seven points in that stretch from T.J. Gibbs.
9. Farrell has now taken 10+ shots in all seven of ND’s games against quality competition, after 14 FG attempts against Pitt.
10. The Irish beat Louisville at home in their only matchup last year, 71-66. Stove had 20, and ND was +12 on the glass. Repeat both of those, please.
Don’t have a good feeling about this one, as I don’t see Pitino starting 0-2 in the ACC.
Louisville 78 Notre Dame 74 (in OT…of course)