In a week best forgotten by fans of the Fighting Irish, Notre Dame sustained a pair of defeats that were delivered in different ways, yet both proved to be just as painful. The end result was that the Irish dropped six spots in the polls to the 20th spot as they get set for a crucial week of action. Their two games this week could end determining whether or not they’ll be able to capture the regular season ACC title.
Losses to both Virginia and Georgia Tech dropped Notre Dame into a three-way tie for third place in the conference with Louisville and Florida State. Entering this week, Mike Brey’s squad is just one game away from again residing in first place. However, their situation is precarious enough that another poor week could drop them into the lower rung of ACC teams.
Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review
After a tightly-contested first half in their home game against the 12th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers last Tuesday, the Irish couldn’t break through to take the lead during the second half. That became a moot point during the final six minutes, when a close game became a comfortable win for Virginia as the Cavaliers pulled away with a 17-5 run to give them a comfortable 71-54 victory.
One of the problems was Virginia’s domination on the boards, managing to hold a 38-22 advantage. That control proved to be damaging, with the Cavaliers’ 10 offensive rebounds translating into 15 points.
On Saturday, a potential win in Atlanta against Georgia Tech was jarringly turned into a stunning loss in less than 10 seconds. Matt Farrell’s shot with seven seconds left missed, with the subsequent rebound and fast break action by the Yellow Jackets resulting in a game-winning layup at the buzzer for a 62-60 win.
The loss marked the second year in a row that Notre Dame had lost at Georgia Tech in the closing seconds. In this game, the Irish had held an early 19-9 lead but then watched the Jackets roar back to take a 33-25 with less than two minutes left in the first half. After the break, Notre Dame managed to tie things up at 60 with less than three minutes to play, leading to the final dramatics.
Notre Dame Basketball Standouts
Colson’s prowess on the boards short-circuited in the loss to Virginia, grabbing only three on the night. However, he did finish with 20 points and blocked three shots for the Irish. Four days later, he was back to his old self by contributing a double-double against Georgia Tech with 13 points and rebounds each.
Farrell had a fairly quiet performance against the Cavaliers, scoring only eight points and grabbing two rebounds, though he did dish out five assists on the night. His miss in the closing seconds against the Yellow Jackets marred a much more effective effort, with Farrell scoring 15 points and four assists.
Notre Dame’s Week Ahead
Two vitally important matchups begin with a home contest against Duke on Monday night. The 21st-ranked Blue Devils currently have a 4-4 conference mark after a week that saw them lose in stunning fashion at home to North Carolina State before bouncing back against Wake Forest.
On Saturday, a bigger challenge has the Irish traveling to Chapel Hill to face the North Carolina Tar Heels. Roy Williams’ team currently holds the ACC lead, one game ahead of Notre Dame. They were jolted on Saturday in a 77-62 loss at Miami.