Videos by OutKick
The ACC has been full of basket-cases masquerading as basketball teams. Whether is Florida State fighting thru injuries, the fluidity of North Carolina’s identity or the shoulder-shrug that is Virginia night-to-night, it’s been a madhouse. From the ashes, however, an unsuspecting Notre Dame has risen to a tie for first in the conference with Duke (tiebreaker goes to Duke). Now they battle a dormant blue-blood, down on their luck in Louisville and are a seven-point favorite.
Notre Dame opened the season 3-4, lost three games in a row before hosting Kentucky and beating Kentucky on December 11. Since then, the Irish have quietly won 12 of 15 games and has wins against teams that are technically above average in ACC play. It’s fun to see but perplexing. No one is scoring more than 14.5 points per game. Only one player is averaging seven rebounds or more per contest. However, they do play seven guys at least 20 minutes per game, get strong contributions throughout their starters and short bench and play pretty good defense, allowing 65.5 points per game and 63.0 points per in their last six ACC games.
Louisville is a minor disaster off the court but on it, they’ve played hard and been competitive in a lot of their games despite being severely undermanned a lot of nights. On the road, they struggle. Their last three road games feature really tough losses. The first was by 12 at Pittsburgh (tied for last in ACC), the second was a 12 point loss to Virginia (shoulder-shrugger University) and then a 23-point loss at mediocre (at best) Syracuse. The Cardinals also had their chance against Notre Dame eighteen days ago, lost by 12 at home AND allowed Notre Dame to nail FIFTEEN THREES, shoot 65.2% from beyond the arc and tally 63.3% from the field overall. Louisville made ten three-pointers, shot 47% from the field AND LOST BY TWELVE. A LOT OF CAPS HERE.
A lot of this leans to a Notre Dame double-digit romp, and it may be the case but there is one moment of pause. Nate Laszewski. He knocked knees in Notre Dame’s last game against NC State and is listed as a game-time decision tonight. He averages 8.4 points and those seven rebounds we mentioned before. Louisville has lost five straight and hasn’t won a road game since January 2 when they beat lowly Georgia Tech by three.
I don’t know is Notre Dame is very good. They’ve played well and are probably in the neighborhood of Top 40 teams in the country and it’s undisputable that they are taking advantage of a sub-great ACC. Tonight, I see both teams coming back to earth shotting-percentage-wise. Even so, Notre Dame is more balanced than Louisville. Only Malik Williams averages double-digits in anything (10.8 ppg). Smart money is with the home team and that’s Notre Dame -7.