For the third consecutive ACC game, Carolina hits the road, this time for South Bend, as they will take on Notre Dame tomorrow night. The Tar Heels are coming off a dominant 91-65 win at Boston College this past Sunday, as Carolina improved to 10-3 overall and 2-0 in ACC play. They have won both of their ACC games on the road by double digits, the first time that has happened since the 2015-16 season, and just the second time since Michael Jordan left for the NBA following the 1983-84 season.
Notre Dame enters with a pedestrian 7-5 record, but make no mistake, Mike Brey’s squad is experienced, and hungry for another upset win. The Fighting Irish upset Kentucky back on December 11th, the week before Kentucky routed Carolina in Las Vegas. But this is the same Notre Dame team that lost at Boston College and has lost at home to Texas A&M. 3 pliers average double figures scoring led by Dane Goodwin, who averages 14.9 points per contest. Nate Laszewski mans the interior, averaging over 7 points and 7 rebounds per game. A sign of the age that exists on the Notre Dame roster, Prentiss Hubb is still on the team, averaging 7.8 points per game.
In Carolina’s last seven wins, they have held their opponents to under 65 points, the longest occurrence since they did so for 8 wins during the 2011-12 season. This team is still a work in progress, but they are inching closer to becoming a complete team on both ends of the floor.
Dawson Garcia’s status for tomorrow’s game is unknown as of this moment, but you have to expect that Carolina will exhaust every opportunity to have him suit up. If he isn’t cleared to play, Carolina will look back to Sunday’s win, as they excelled with a small ball lineup that featured Leaky Black at the four spot. Regardless of Garcia’s availability, Carolina will have their hands full with a scrappy, hungry, Notre Dame bunch:
Tempo: This is going to be a great test both for the players, and the coaching staff. Mike Brey is going to throw a lot of different looks at Carolina, and it will be interesting to see how Hubert Davis will adjust throughout the game. Notre Dame can’t afford to let this game be played at the pace Carolina wants to play, which is why they will adjust their defenses to throw Carolina out of rhythm. There’s no denying the growth that Caleb Love has shown this season, and he will need to be the best player on the floor tomorrow night if Carolina wants to win.
Turnovers: This is a follow-up to the tempo, if Carolina protects the basketball, it makes it tougher to see Notre Dame getting a win in this game. The Tar Heels have improved at handling full-court pressure, double teams, etc which is a good sign, as, after that Kentucky debacle, they can expect more of that as the ACC season moves along. If Carolina can’t control the tempo, then that means every possession will be more valuable. For the season, the Tar Heels are averaging 12.4 turnovers per game.
Defend 3 Point Line: Notre Dame makes 9 triples per game while shooting 25 of them, while that averages out to 36%, this is a dangerous outside shooting team. Virtually every lineup will feature every player capable of making a three-point shot, which will be another test for Carolina. Hubert Davis has adjusted how his team defends ball screen action, and this game may bring upon another adjustment. The Tar Heels are the only teams to shoot 31% from behind the arc this season. They’ll need another performance like that tomorrow night.
Series History: UNC is 27-8 all-time against Notre Dame, including having won 9 of the last 10. With that in mind, UNC is only 5-3 at Notre Dame.
UNC - 30th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.6 (16th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 96.3 (76th)
Notre Dame - 59th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 110.3 (34th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.9 (119th)
UNC - 35th
Notre Dame - 107th
TV Info: The game will start at 9 PM, on ESPN2
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