Pressed for time this morning, so briefly, here are the five keys to an Irish victory.
1. Don’t let Jaron Blossomgame get 30.
Blossomgame has averaged 23 PPG / 10 RPG in his last three games against the Irish. He’s a beast, and a tremendously underrated player in the ACC.
2. Avoid the ACC letdown.
GT beats UNC, promptly loses to Duke by 53. VT beats Duke by 15, loses to NC State by 28. Virginia wins at Louisville, loses to FSU at home.
See where I’m going here.
3. Double-double #10.
Bonz has been tremendous against major conference opponents, averaging 18.9 PPG / 12.3 RPG in seven games. With Beach struggling, Bonz’s production needs to be steady for the Irish to keep picking up Ws.
4. Signs of life from Beach.
Farrell, Vasturia and Bonz can’t all play like they did against Louisville every game. They are going to have off nights. Beach has to get it going. Remember, he averaged 17.5 PPG in last year’s NCAA Tournament. I’d take 10-12 points today. Baby steps.
5. Production from the bench.
The Irish starters played hard minutes on Wednesday night, with Farrell and Vasturia repeatedly driving it against above-average defenders. They had to work hard for that W, so the bench needs to step up today and provide energy and quality minutes. Look for 20 minutes and 8-10 points from T.J. Gibbs.
This one is not going to be easy. Expect a bit of a lull coming out of the gate, and the Irish potentially needing a late run to escape. Going to 3-0 in the ACC would be enormous, with the next three on the road against quality competition.
Notre Dame 74 Clemson 68