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Notre Dame Men’s Basketball Trying To Get Back On Track

Notre Dame fell to North Carolina 83-76 in Greensboro Sunday afternoon. The game was originally scheduled to be played in Chapel Hill on Saturday, but it had to be rescheduled due to a water shortage in the area. The Irish have lost four games in a row and are now 7th in the ACC standings. Only three short weeks ago, they were undefeated in conference play and in 1st place in the ACC. That’s what can happen when you play in what has been college basketball’s toughest conference this season.
So, what’s wrong with the Irish? Well, a few things. Their most noticeable struggle has been free throw shooting. Notre Dame has been one of the best free throw shooting teams in the country this year. They reminded us all of that when they shot 85% (17-20) from the free throw line against North Carolina. In their three games prior to that, they shot 64.7%, 63.6%, and 67.9% from the free throw line. As the old saying goes, “Free throws ain’t free.” It’s common for teams to go through shooting slumps. Free throw struggles tend to be more mental than anything. If their game against UNC is any indication, the Irish appear to have regained their confidence from the free throw line. Consistent free throw shooting is extremely important in the NCAA tournament, and the Irish will need to rely on that in March.
In addition to their struggles at the free throw line, the Irish have recently gone a bit cold from beyond the arc. And by “a bit cold” I mean they shot 16.7% from three against Virginia. Ouch. Like free throw shooting, three point shooting is a strength of this Notre Dame team. Since they lack size, a good portion of their offense is driving into the paint and kicking out for three point attempts. In their past two games, the Irish have shot 33.3% and 34.6% from three. To beat top teams, Notre Dame will need to shoot closer to 40%.
Notre Dame is going to be out-rebounded by almost every team they play. They’re currently ranked 256th in rebounds per game, and if you have watched Notre Dame games this season, that has not been hard to notice. As I said before, they just don’t have the size to beat teams in this area of the game. That being said, they can still win games while being out-rebounded. The key here is to keep the rebound deficit below double-digits. This will be a tough task for the Irish since Coach Brey has said he would like to play more “small ball” with Bonzie Colson playing at center most of the game.
The Irish will return to South Bend to take on Wake Forest (Tuesday, 2/7) and Florida State (Saturday, 2/11). With seven games remaining (four at home), Notre Dame will try to get back on track and build some momentum heading into the ACC Tournament, which begins on March 7th. Stay tuned, Irish fans.