The Irish easily handled Syracuse on Saturday to get their first ACC victory over the Orange. That leaves only one ACC team that ND has failed to beat in its 3+ years in the conference: Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers.
We pointed out that the Irish had averaged 60.3 points in three losses to the Orange, and then they went out and put up 84. Demon #1…exorcised.
Well, the numbers are even worse against UVa in four losses:
56 points per game.
Throw in Bennett’s demolition of the Irish in the NCAA Tournament as the head coach of Washington State, and the numbers are downright ugly. Let’s look back briefly at the Cavs’ dominance over the Irish.
2016 – UVa 77 ND 66
This is the only time ND has scored 60+ against UVa, and this game was not even close. The Irish started ACC play on the road, and were absolutely lost in the first 30 minutes of this one. They trailed by as much as 19 in the 2nd half, as UVa led by double digits for the last 24 minutes of the game.
Two notable stats: 1) 60 of the 77 points were scored by players no longer on the Cavs’ roster; 2) Bonz had a solid 14/8 in 36 minutes.
2015 – UVa 62 ND 56
Hell of a matchup between 14-0 UVa and 15-1 ND, and then the Irish go and shoot 33.9% in a home loss. After taking an eight point lead early in the 2nd half, ND went ice cold. UVa took the lead for good with just under four minutes to play.
2014 – UVa 68 ND 53
Virginia put on an absolute clinic in this one on both ends of the floor. Precision passing led to multiple easy layups and dunks on the offensive end, and UVa’s stifling defense forced 20 ND turnovers.
2014 – UVa 70-49
During the lost season after Jerian Grant’s suspension, the Irish showed some gumption toward the end of the season. Yeah, they ended up losing by 21, but this one was tied at half and tight midway through the second half. UVa was ridiculously efficient down the stretch, shooting 63.6% for the game.
Five Things to Know About Virginia
1. UVa is balanced, as London Perrantes is their leading scorer at 11.7 points per game. Perrantes has a serious knack for making big shots.
Marial Shayok has started the last four games for Virginia and has averaged 14.8 PPG in that stretch. Bennett has been searching for a capable replacement for Malcolm Brogdon, and may have found it in Shayok.
2. With the addition of the Man Bun, Kyle Guy, the Cavs shoot nearly 40% from deep. Guy hits them at a 48% clip.
3. This may be the only opponent that ND plays for the rest of the year that turns the ball over less. The Cavs are second in the country in fewest turnovers per game (9.6). ND is now fifth at 10.0 turnovers per game.
4. While they won at Louisville, Virginia has only played two other ranked opponents: WVU and FSU. They lost to both at home.
5. They were playing inferior teams (one of which was Iowa), but Virginia went through a four-game stretch earlier in the season during which they gave up 32, 38, 34 and 41 points. That just ridiculous. UVa leads the country in scoring defense at 53.2 PPG.
Ten Stats to Impress Your Buddies
1. In ACC play, Farrell leads the Irish in minutes (36.9), points (16.3), assists (5.6), and 3-point shooting (51.4%). He has to be the most improved player in the country, and in the running for some postseason ACC accolades.
2. Look for a big game from Bonz tonight. Isaiah Wilkins is a solid defender but is also an undersized power forward at 6’7. Bonz should be able to get off some of those off-balance floaters and get a few easy buckets off the offensive glass. While he now has three consecutive games with less than 10 shots, he continues to quietly get the job done (13.9 PPG / 12.1 RPG).
3. Virginia isn’t a killer on the glass, so the Irish should be able to hold their own. ND was +11 against Syracuse.
4. Needless to say, good Beach showed up on Saturday. 30 points on 22 SHOTS! I love it. What a difference from the passive Beach that only took three shots against Louisville. Beach is now up to 43.6% from behind the arc in ACC play. Remember when people were calling for him to see less minutes?
5. This isn’t a stat, but this was one of Farrell’s nine assists against ‘Cuse.
6. For as good as Virginia’s defense is, they have had their way offensively with the Irish. Take a look at these FG percentages in the four wins discussed above.
2016 – 57.1%
2015 – 49.0%
2014 – 53.8%
2014 – 63.6%
The improved Irish defense will be tested by Virginia’s methodical, efficient offense.
7. After hitting 5-6 free throws on Saturday, Marty Geben is now shooting 90% from the line in ACC play. Marty does his job game after game, and has been a key component of ND’s improved defense.
8. Remember, ND played their worst game of the year in a 63-55 win over St. Peter’s in the last non-conference game. After that one, Brey said that he scheduled St. Peter’s because they play a similar pack-line defense as Virginia. That’s a little concerning.
9. After two excellent games, T.J. Gibbs came back to Earth against the Syracuse zone. Three turnovers in eight minutes. Not alarmed in the least bit.
10. Of course Beach’s 30 was fantastic, but I loved his seven rebounds. His ACC average jumped from 2.8 to 3.4 per game. Let’s get that up to 4.0 per game.
ACC Network – 7 p.m. (CST)
I’ll be in attendance, so no sweat for me; however, this is the second straight week that ND has been involved in a Top 15 matchup not on national television.
Never did I envision a 7-1 start in the ACC. Never. But, this team has stones. I think Farrell may not have the offensive success in this one because UVa is going to make it nearly impossible for him to drive, but this just feels like a Bonz explosion (20+/10+).
Notre Dame 70 Virginia 63