If this Fighting Irish looks familiar to you, you’re not crazy. They didn’t bring in any new scholarship this year and returned nearly everyone. Despite all the returning experience, Mike Brey’s squad runs shallow with only 7 players garnering real minutes most nights. The team is led by the stud big man John Mooney. He averages 15.7 points and 13.9 rebounds per game. He is a threat on the inside, but is also shooting threes at a 33.3% clip. His battles against James Banks and Moses Wright will be great to watch. He is joined by guards T.J. Gibbs and Prentiss Hubb who average 13.1 and 12.1 points respectively. Both are good distributors combining for 8.8 assists per game. These three make up the core of this Notre Dame squad each playing at least 32 minutes per night.
On the wing Notre Dame plays Dane Goodwin (off the bench) and Rex Pflueger. Rex is a 5th year senior who is really struggling this year. He’s playing 25 minutes per game, but is only scoring 4.9 points on 28.9% shooting from the field. His usually decent three point shot hasn’t fallen all year with him shooting just 26.0% from deep. Goodwin has picked up the slack averaging 11.5 points on 45.5% shooting (50.0% inside the arc and 40.8% outside). The front court is rounded out by Juwan Durham and Nate Laszewski. Durham is a solid all-around interior player averaging 7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He won’t take over the game, but can be a valuable contributor. Laszewski hurt GT last year (14 points on 4-6 shooting in only 18 minutes), but he hasn’t been able to take a step forward this year. He shoots 4 threes per game, but only hits 30.8% of them.
This team came into the year with NCAA Tournament aspirations, but like so many ACC teams they have underperformed. At this point in the season their resume is very thin. A decent road win at Syracuse is balanced by a confounding home loss to Boston College. Outside of Syracuse their best win is...against UCLA at home? Or a home overtime win over Toledo? They have had their chances this year. The BC loss was by one point, they lost by two to Indiana on a neutral court, NC State on the road and Louisville at home went down to the wire. Any of those games changing would have been a significant boost to their resume. Instead, they are sitting at 1-4 in the ACC and far away from early bubble discussions.
Kenpom has Notre Dame as the 63rd best team in the country. They are balanced with the 51st best offense and 82nd best defense. They are very stingy with the ball turning it over on just 14.2% of their possessions, good for second best in the country. They also very, very rarely foul. They have the second fewest fouls in the country. They pass fantastically. Nearly two-thirds (67.5%) of their field goals are assisted, second in the country. They don’t pick up fouls at all, largely because they’re not great driving to the basket.
Given how good Notre Dame is at passing and the perimeter-focused offense, I expect to see a lot of man defense this game. Offensively the Jackets should continue to focus on the getting the ball in deep to Banks or Wright. Keep going with what has been working the last couple of games.
This game takes place at 8:30 pm (odd time) on Wednesday the 15th at McCamish Pavilion. The game will also air on the ACC Network. Kenpom has Georgia Tech as a 2 point favorite with a 58% chance to pick up the home win. The Yellow Jackets have been playing better since ACC play began, but this should be a very tight game.