We’re going to cover a lot in this preview, as ND has turned 6-5 into 12-5. They sit in solo 2nd in the ACC, with an outside chance at a share of the regular-season ACC crown. Louisville is an excellent basketball team, and stands in the way of a chance to hang another banner in the Joyce.
ACC POY Debate
The writers and pundits in love with bluebloods are touting Duke/UNC as the best college basketball game of all time (per usual), and as a subplot they are claiming it is a two-horse race between Luke Kennard vs. Justin Jackson for ACC POY. Just last weekend, ACC Network put five guys on the screen in the running for POY: Kennard, Jackson, Donovan Mitchell, John Collins, and Dennis Smith.
Not having Bonz on that list is a crime. There should be five guys in the hunt going into the final game (and Dennis Smith should be nowhere on this list)…you be the judge of who is the ACC POY. *All stats are for ACC play only, with rank in parentheses.
Bonzie Colson: 17.4 PPG (11th), 10.8 RPG (1st), 54.4% FG (2nd), 9-19 3PT, 1.5 BPG (6th), 11 double doubles in 17 games
Luke Kennard: 19.4 PPG (2nd), 4.8 RPG, 48.9% FG (6th), 47.7% 3PT (2nd)
Justin Jackson: 19.2 PPG (3rd), 4.7 RPG (not Top 10), 44.0% FG (not Top 10), 38.3% 3PT (not Top 10), 273 FGA (67 more than Bonz, 68 more than Kennard)
Donovan Mitchell: 18.0 PPG (7th), 44.9% FG (not Top 10), 40.2% 3PT (10th), 2.1 SPG (1st)
John Collins: 20.7 PPG (1st), 9.4 RPG (2nd), 63.3% FG (1st), 1.6 BPG (4th)
Looking at the numbers, I’m not sure Justin Jackson deserves it even if UNC beats Duke and wins the outright regular season title. I could absolutely make the case that he is 5th on this list. Kennard has been ridiculously efficient all year, averaging more points than Jackson per game on 68 less shots.
I think it’s a toss up, and SHOULD depend on Saturday’s results. If Bonz or Mitchell go nuts, they should get a legitimate look. If Collins goes for 25/10 in a NCAA Tournament clinching win at Virginia Tech, how do you look past those numbers? However, Tobacco Road is going to vote for whoever plays better between Kennard and Jackson. You know it, and I know it.
Double Bye Scenarios
ND wins, they are the 2 seed.
ND loses, then they need a FSU or Duke loss to avoid the 5 seed.
Tom Noie has all the scenarios, here.
Five Things to Know About Louisville
1. The Cards are back at full strength after losing two point guards for significant time in ACC play. Snider and Hicks are both back, and Louisville’s depth could give the Irish fits.
2. Louisville has four huge guys (Mathiang, Johnson, Mahmoud, Spalding) that seem to alternate having good games. In the 77-70 loss to ND, none of them played well, combining for only 21 points. None of them scored more than 6. Bonz had 18 and 14, as the Irish outrebounded the Cards.
3. Pitino’s squad only shoots 36.1% from deep and 68.4% from the FT line. Advantage Irish.
4. Louisville is 7-1 at home in ACC play, but Notre Dame has fared quite well in their three trips to the Yum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Center.
2015 – ND 71 UofL 59
2013 – UofL 73 ND 57
2012 – ND 67 UofL 65 (2 OT)
5. Defensively, KenPom has them at #7 in defensive efficiency. But, they aren’t in the Top 50 in turnovers forced, which is a surprising stat. Recently, they have given up 90 at home to VT, and most recently, 88 in this week’s loss to Wake Forest.
Ten Stats to Impress Your Buddies
1. During the 6-game ND win streak, Bonz, Beach and Farrell have been decent:
Bonz: 21.8 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 62.7% FG, 6-8 3PT, 1.7 BPG
Beach: 16.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 41.4% 3PT, 1.7 BPG
Farrell: 15.3 PPG, 5.2 APG, 40.5% 3PT, 2.21 A/TO
2. Farrell has now SCORED in double figures in 16 of 17 ACC games. Last year, he PLAYED double digit minutes in 2 of 18 regular season ACC games, and scored three points…TOTAL. Lock for most improved player in the ACC.
3. Stove’s not shooting the ball well, but he is doing everything else in this 6-game winning streak:
12.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.7 APG, 59.2% 2PT, 26.7% 3PT, 3.14 A/TO
I have been begging for someone to fill the role as the second rebounder, and Stove, not surprisingly, is picking up the slack.
PLUS, HE DUNKED!
4. Interesting stat. In ACC play, Beach is 9th in the league in blocks per game.
5. Quietly, Matt Ryan has given Brey some productive minutes off the bench. He has played 34 minutes in the last 4 games (after playing 46 in the first 13 ACC games), hitting on 4-10 from deep. I was impressed with his 11 minutes against BC, and he did not take a shot. He was engaged defensively, moving his feet and communicating better. He’s going to hit a big shot or two in March.
6. The Irish have scored 80+ in 5 of the last 6 games. Brey’s small lineup is doing exactly what it needed to do…open up the floor offensively and allow the Irish to get in a great flow.
7. After two DNP-CDs, Marty played 10 solid minutes against BC. Brey said after the game that he got Marty some run because they’ll need him at some point in March. I don’t think his role will rise to the level of Farrell’s last season, but it was a very familiar move by Brey, who played Farrell 15 minutes against NC State in last year’s home finale.
8. ND and Louisville have some eerily similar results this year.
- ND lost to Virginia 71-54, Louisville lost to Virginia 71-55
- ND beat Cuse by 18 at home, Louisville beat them by 20.
- Both beat Miami by 5.
- ND beat VT by 5, Louisville beat them by 4.
- ND is 6-6 vs the RPI Top 50, Louisville is 6-7.
Would anyone really be shocked if this one went to OT?
9. Lunardi currently has Louisville as a 2 seed, and ND as a 5 seed. Both teams are 23-7. As noted above, they both have 6 Top 50 wins, with the Cards having a 13-11 edge in Top 100 wins. The difference is Louisville’s #2 overall SOS and #6 RPI, compared to ND’s #40 SOS and #22 RPI. Still, I have Louisville as a 3 currently, and ND on the 4 line at 16 on the 1-68. ND could solidify a 4, possibly a 3, which may get them a trip to Milwaukee or Indianapolis.
6 of ND 7 losses have come to teams that are currently 5 seeds or higher in my latest bracket: 1 Nova, 1 UNC, 3 Duke, 4 FSU, 4 Purdue, 5 Virginia. The only other loss is the heartbreaker at Georgia Tech.
10. If you are in Vegas and want some great value, go to Cosmopolitan and get the Irish at 90-1 to win it all. Got my bet in.
2 p.m. EST / 1 p.m. CST – CBS (No Raftery…damn it.)
Louisville -8. The Irish are 5-0 ATS as an underdog.
The homer in me thinks there is something special about this team, and they get it done.
Irish 83 Louisville 80 (OT)