The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are in the middle of a two game losing streak and currently own a .500 record. To say this season has been a disappointment would be an understatement.
Notre Dame is just 12-12 this year, and the move to the ACC hasn’t been very fruitful. The highlight of the season has been the home win against No. 7 Duke, but the Irish are just 3-8 in the conference. The only other conference wins have been over the two teams with worse records, Virginia Tech and Boston College.
Despite keeping many of these games close, the Irish haven’t been able to close out games. Former leading scorer Jerian Grant hasn’t been with the team for 11 games and no one has stepped up to take his place. He’s still listed as the team’s leading scorer, holding a five point per game edge over center Garrick Sherman.
This is a good week for the Irish to string together a couple wins. They host an offensively challenged Clemson team tonight, and will be at 6-17 Boston College on Sunday. Both are winnable games for the Irish and a good opportunity for Mike Brey to salvage something from this season.
Clemson is 15-7 overall and 6-4 in the ACC this season. The Tigers feature one of the best defenses in the country, but are pitiful on offense. No team has scored more than 80 points against them and teams have scored more than 70 points against them just four times.
The problem is that they average just 62 points per game and shoot just 41-percent from the field. The Tigers defense keeps them in games, but its always a grind it out, slow paced game. Don’t expect these two teams to light up the scoreboard or run up and down the court at a blazing pace.
Notre Dame should have little problem slowing down Clemson’s offense. If the Tigers can manage to get hot from the three-point line, it could spell trouble for the Irish who are bad at defending the arc. Clemson is also good on the offensive glass and end up with a lot of second chance points.
On defense, the Tigers hold opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 42-percent. They don’t give up three pointers very often (opponents shoot just 27-percent from the arc) and are very good at rebounding the ball. They don’t force a lot of turnovers, but their smothering defense doesn’t require takeaways to be successful.
The Irish are still fairly efficient on offense and are ranked 55th in the country. Ball movement is key against Clemson, as is the pick and roll game. This is the kind of game where Grant’s play would dictate the game.
Notre Dame will keep this a close game simply due to the offensive inadequacies of the Tigers offense. The Irish will struggle at times on offense, but if their intensity is high at the other end of the court they should come away with a win.
Home court advantage will give the Irish a boost and will likely be the difference maker tonight. Three of Clemson’s four conference losses have been away from home.
Notre Dame comes away with a much needed win tonight to put them back above .500 on the season.