Notre Dame had not beaten Virginia since 1981 heading into the ACC Tournament causing some consternation among Irish fans when it was likely the two would cross paths in the quarterfinals. Turns out it was all for naught as Notre Dame solved the a riddle it hadn’t solved in 36 years Thursday night in the Barclays Center taking down UVA 71-58 to advance to the semifinals of the ACC Tourney tomorrow night.
Notre Dame briefly fell behind 2-0 on Thursday night, but they wouldn’t look back from there. The Irish quickly responded with a 9-0 run and they kept running all night long. At one point, Notre Dame led by as many as 17 points – a far cry from their recent struggles with the Cavaliers since joining the ACC four years ago.
Bonzie Colson led the way for Notre Dame as he has all year with a 21 points and 10 rebounds for yet another double-double. Colson was one of four Notre Dame starters to reach double figures against the Cavaliers. Matt Farrell scored 14 and VJ Beachem and Steve Vasturia each chipped in 12 points.
What made Notre Dame’s easy win even more surprising was the Irish did with without the help of the three point shot which is usually not a recipe for success for them. Notre Dame hit just 5 of 17 three points while hitting 52.6% of the field goals overall. Notre Dame wasn’t as sharp from the free throw line as they normally are either hitting 72% of their shots. That number is by no means poor, but Notre Dame is one of the best free throw shooting teams in the country.
Virginia, on the other hand, did not shoot well as they fell behind early. The Cavaliers shot a paltry 38.6% from the field and 58.3% from the free throw line. London Parrantes, Virginia’s leading scorer, torched Notre Dame for 22 points in UVA’s regular season win over Notre Dame in South Bend. Tonight he scored just three points while hitting 1 of 9 attempts.
Notre Dame now advances to the semifinals Friday night against Florida State. The Irish and Seminoles split the regular season series. Notre Dame lost a thriller in Tallahassee by three points but took care of the Seminoles 84-72 at home. In Notre Dame’s win a Purcell Pavilion, however, Florida State shot an astonishingly bad 7 of 22 from the free throw line. Notre Dame shouldn’t expect the Seminoles to be so charitable from the charity stripe this time around.
The Seminoles advanced to take on the Irish by holding on to beat Virginia Tech in the game right before the Irish and Cavaliers took the court.
Notre Dame and Florida State will tip-off at 9:00 Friday night with the game being broadcast on ESPN. Duke and North Carolina will square off in the main event earlier in the night with the winner advancing to the ACC Tournament Championship against the winner of the Notre Dame and Florida State rubber match.
Should Notre Dame get past the Seminoles, they will advance to their second ACC title game in three years. Last year the Irish got run out the building in the ACC semis by North Carolina to the tun of 78-47.