Notre Dame Basketball Report: Trouble Awaits Irish in ACC Tourney

Photo: © Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The final matchups of the regular season marked another mixed bag for the Irish men’s basketball team as they split their two contests last week. A home win over Boston College on Senior Night was followed by a hard-fought battle in Louisville that came up just short, giving Notre Dame a 12-6 mark within the ACC. With the postseason on the horizon, the Irish are now ranked 22nd, three spots below last week’s designation.

Entering this week’s conference tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, third-seeded Notre Dame will need to win three games in order to capture the automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Tournament. In truth, the Irish will end up with a spot in March Madness due to their 23-8 season mark, though each victory they pick up against their ACC brethren will help with their ultimate seeding.

Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review

Increasing their winning streak to six games, Notre Dame closed out the home portion of their campaign with an 82-66 win over Boston College on March 1. A sluggish start, much like the one they had against the Eagles two weeks earlier, was pushed aside in the latter stages of the first half when the Irish ran off 15 unanswered points and took a 36-28 lead into halftime. During the second half, Notre Dame was never really challenged, building the lead to as much as 20 at one point.

In Louisville on Saturday, the Irish stayed close the entire game and managed to capture a few small leads along the way. However, a crushing three-pointer with 37 seconds left in the game was the fatal blow that sent them to a 71-64 defeat against the Cardinals.

Shooting wasn’t the problem for Notre Dame in the loss, it was their inability to compete in the paint. The Cardinals ended the contest holding a commanding 44-27 advantage on the glass, which proved to be a vital edge in the closing moments of a game. The Irish have thrived at the foul line, but it was Louisville’s four free throws in the final 22 seconds that officially put the game away.

Standouts of the Week

Bonzie Colson

Colson picked up a double-double against Boston College with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while also handing out three assists and slapping away a pair of shots. At Louisville, Colson contributed a team-high 20 points, but was neutralized on the boards by grabbing just five rebounds on the afternoon.

V.J. Beacham

The senior made Senior Night his evening with a game-high 22 points against Boston College, connecting on four three-pointers and also adding four rebounds. He then came close to a double-double against Louisville with 17 points and eight boards.

Matt Farrell

Offering up a little bit of everything, Farrell had a particularly good week on the defensive front by collecting a trio of steals in each of Notre Dame’s contests last week. He also reached double figures in both games, notching 14 against Boston College and 11 against Louisville. In the latter clash, he also managed to dish out eight assists.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

Despite the defeat, Notre Dame snagged a coveted double-bye for the conference tournament. This means that the third-seeded Irish will have four full days of rest before they take the court on Thursday night to face the winner of Wednesday’s game between Virginia and Tuesday’s Georgia Tech-Pittsburgh matchup.

While the double bye is a positive for the Irish, they couldn’t have gotten a worse draw in the ACC Tournament.  If Virginia takes care of it’s business on Wednesday, the Irish will face the one team in the ACC that they just simply haven’t been able to figure out since joining the conference.  Notre Dame has wins over Duke, North Carolina, and Louisville over the last few seasons but Virginia has had Notre Dame’s number.

Notre Dame lost to Virginia 71-54 on their own home court earlier this year and have not beaten UVA once since joining the ACC.  In fact, Notre Dame has lost 10 straight to Virginia and haven’t beaten them since 1981.  If the Irish are able to win their Thursday night game, they would only need to win one more game to advance to the ACC Tournament Championship.

On Sunday, Notre Dame finds out its first step in the NCAA Tournament.

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  1. Its all about rebounding and second chance points that alludes the irish.If their shots are off it could be a long night they dont have much size up front really tough job in front of them

  2. I also disagree with the idea that they “couldn’t have gotten a worse draw.” I’d rather have ND get UVA — despite the history of struggles with them — than get Duke, which is who they’d be looking at if ND was the #4 seed. And I’d rather be in a position to face FSU instead of Carolina in the semi-final. So I think it was a pretty good draw for ND.

  3. The Irish are a team I wouldn’t bet for or against. They are the type of team that could win the ACC and/or make another run in the tournament…..or……they could be beat early and/or face an early exit from the tournament. I honestly can’t say one way or the other how things will play out.

    Bob makes a good point that Virginia hasn’t been dominant this year, but I also agree with Brad that I would rather have not had to face Virginia early. For whatever reason Virginia has had ND’s number for years. I’ve seen it happen all across the sports world, where one team has a hold over another team, no matter how good and bad each team is. Virginia is that team right now for the Irish. Hopefully they solve it this week or it could be a long weekend.

  4. Good article but I disagree with your comment that the Irish couldn’t have gotten a worse draw. I actually think their bracket is perfect! Although they lost to Virginia earlier, the Cavaliers were very beatable and, unfortunately, ND didn’t take advantage. Having said that, I am very confident of a different result this time around if that match-up takes place. Go Irish!

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