The second round of the ACC tournament gets underway Wednesday and one interesting matchup pits the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (14-18) taking on the Louisville Cardinals (19-12). To get to this point, Louisville had a bye in the first round while Notre Dame beat Georgia Tech 78-71 in a slight upset in the first round. These two matched up just 10 days ago with Louisville taking that one 75-61. In that matchup, the Cardinals’ Jordan Nwora had 20 points on 8 of 17 shooting. In the loss, Notre Dame’s John Mooney had 22 points and 13 rebounds. The two will square off again on Wednesday with tipoff scheduled for 7:00 pm ET from the Spectrum Center. In this contest, the Louisville Cardinals come in as 7.5-point favorites. The over/under for this game is set at 134.5 points.
By The Numbers
On the defensive side of the ball, it is Louisville that comes in a little stronger. They are currently ranked 79th in the country allowing just 67.8 points per game to opponents. Notre Dame also ranks well, though. They currently sit at 106th in the nation, allowing 68.7 points per game.
Offensively, Louisville also gets the nod coming in at 119th in the nation. They are scoring 74.7 points per game. With solid play at both end, Louisville ranks 62nd in the country in scoring margin at +6.9. Notre Dame, on the other hand, plummets down to 275th on the list, scoring 68.9 points per game.
Notre Dame Looks To Keep The Upsets Coming
After a rough season, coach Mike Brey and the Fighting Irish know they don’t have anything to lose by going out and leaving it all on the floor. After an upset over Georgia Tech, they are hoping to keep it going against the no. 7 seeded Louisville Cardinals. To do so, though, they are going to have to lean heavily on junior forward, John Mooney. On the season, Mooney is averaging a double-double with 14.1 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He is also shooting 46.6% from the field and is chipping in 1.3 assists per game.
Outside of Mooney, Notre Dame has two other players averaging double-digits in guards TJ Gibbs and DJ Harvey. On the season, Gibbs is averaging 13.4 points, 1.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. For Harvey, he is averaging 10.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
Louisville Rested And Ready For Irish
Sometimes winning in March tournaments is all about momentum; for the Louisville Cardinals, they are hoping that rest and preparedness will help them on Wednesday. With Notre Dame having to play the second game in two days, Louisville will come into this one much fresher and will hope that translates to a win.
Leading the way this season for the Cardinals has been forward, Jordan Nwora. On the season, Nwora is averaging 17.3 points on 44.5% shooting. He is also chipping in 7.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1 steal per game.
Aside from Nwora, the two other players averaging double-digits for the Cardinals is Dwayne Sutton (10.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists) and Christen Cunningham (10.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists). Center Steven Enoch (9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds) has also had a nice season to date.
Notre Dame May Not Win, But I Like Them To Cover
As mentioned earlier, March Madness is often about momentum and who is playing good basketball at the right time. After a nice win Tuesday, Notre Dame is coming in confident. For Louisville, though, they come in with doubts. To end the regular season, they lost 4 of their last 5 and 6 of their last 8 regular season games. In fact, in the stretch of 5 games to end the season, Notre Dame was the only win they had and that was playing on their home court. I am not sure that Notre Dame can pull off the upset in this one, but I do like them to cover the spread. For my money, I am taking Notre Dame and the 7.5 points.