After opening up conference play with a huge win over Duke, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have struggled in the ACC. They sit at 11-7 overall with a 2-3 in-conference record.
The Irish were 1-1 last week with a road loss at Maryland and a win at home against Virginia Tech.
Notre Dame had a comfortable nine point lead at halftime against Maryland before giving up a whopping 49 points in the second half. The Terrapins shot just 39-percent, so defense wasn’t the issue. The Irish turned the ball over 17 times and were outrebounded by a wide margin.
Virginia Tech was a game the Irish were supposed to win by a wide margin. A seven point victory at home really isn’t that great over a team that was 8-8 coming into the game. The Hokies shot 52-percent from the field, but couldn’t hold onto the ball turning it over 17 times. Notre Dame on the other hand had just 10 turnovers in this game.
Both games featured the All- Pat Connaughton Show, who had 40 points between the two matchups. He also led the team each night in rebounding. Without Jerian Grant on the outside, this team is struggling. Grant was dismissed after last semester for academic issues. His presence on the outside made this team much more dynamic in addition to adding another scoring option.
Mike Brey has spent some time recently shuffling the lineup to find the best combination going forward. Sunday’s win stopped a three game skid in the ACC.
Tonight, the Irish head south to face a defensive juggernaut: the Florida State Seminoles (12-5, 3-2). Opponents average just under 69 points against the Seminoles and according to Pomeroy ratings, they have the ninth ranked defense in efficiency. Only one team, Michigan, has scored more than 80 points against them and that was in overtime.
They are solid everywhere on the defensive end of the court. FSU holds teams to 31-percent shooting from outside the arc and just 39-percent inside it, overall opponents shoot a mere 37-percent. They are good at forcing turnovers and an excellent shot blocking team. Everything that the Irish are good at on offense, the Seminoles are good at defending.
Offensively, FSU is merely average. The one glaring weak spot is their propensity for turning the ball over. They can shoot the ball well, hitting 47-percent of their field goals, but when the Seminoles lose it is generally due to poor execution on offense.
Notre Dame hasn’t scored 80 points since conference play began and has been held under 70 twice. It will take a monumental effort on offense for the Irish to steal a win on the road.
The Irish don’t matchup well against FSU, couple that with homecourt advantage for the Seminoles and it looks awfully hard for Notre Dame to come away with a win.
The Irish fall on the road.
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