Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Game Preview | No. 7 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Virginia

March 12, 2020
1,128

Notre Dame (20-12, 10-10) at Virginia (23-7, 15-5)


Date: March 12th

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

Where: Greensboro Coliseum | Greensboro, N.C.

TV:  ESPN 


Quick Facts 

- Notre Dame and Virginia will meet for the 16th time on Tuesday evening.  

- The Cavaliers lead the all-time series 13-2, including a 50-49 win in Charlottesville in February.

- Notre Dame won its 1,900th game on Wednesday night.  

- Juwan Durham came off the bench for the first time all season on Wednesday and recorded 12 points, four rebounds and two blocks.

- Mike Brey has no led Notre Dame to 15 20-win seasons during his 20 years in South Bend. 

- Notre Dame has won at least one game in the ACC Championship each of the last six years. The Irish hold a 10-4 record over those years and only Duke & Carolina hold better records in ACC Tournament play.


THE STARTERS

Notre Dame

Name Points Rebounds Assists
Prentiss Hubb 12.1 2.4 5.1
TJ Gibbs 13.3 2.2 3.3
Dane Goodwin 10.8 3.8 1.3
Rex Pflueger 5.2 3.6 3.4
John Mooney 16.2 12.7 1.7

Virginia 

Name Points Rebounds Assists
Kihei Clark 10.8 4.2 5.9
Tomas Woldetensae 6.6 2.2 1.1
Braxton Key 9.9 7.4 1.8
Mamadi Diakite 13.7 6.8 0.6
Jay Huff 8.5 6.2 0.8

Preview

Points Per Game
Notre Dame: 74.3
Virginia: 57.0

Opponent Points Per Game
Notre Dame: 68.7
Virginia: 52.4

FG%
Notre Dame: 42.6%
Virginia: 41.3%

Rebounds Per Game
Notre Dame: 37.8
Virginia: 34.2

Assists Per Game
Notre Dame: 16.5
Virginia: 11.4

Blocks Per Game
Notre Dame: 3.7
Virginia: 4.9

Steals Per Game
Notre Dame: 5.9
Virginia: 5.4

As I’m writing this, there might be less confidence in this game being played than Notre Dame pulling the upset on Thursday night as the coronavirus precautions have hit sports hard in the last 18 hours. 

There won’t be any fans other than immediate family in the arena and TJ Gibbs wasn’t too worried about the lack of atmosphere. 

“It's definitely going to be different,” stated Gibbs. “Coach said it's going to be more like a scrimmage than it is an actual game. But we can't have that mindset, we have to come out and play like our lives are on the line still. We play for the fans, it's going to be, not sad, but just a little bit of a different environment. Our families are usually here and it's a little bit easier to play and a little bit more energy in the building, but we have to bring our own energy and just play the way we play.”

On the court, Virginia brings an eight-game winning streak into the ACC Tourney and it started with the 50-49 overtime win over Notre Dame on February 11th. Notre Dame cruised to an 80-58 win over a beaten up Boston College on Wednesday night to advance. 

The first meeting between the two teams was ugly and we could see more of the same on Thursday. Notre Dame shot just 32.8 percent from the field, while Virginia wasn’t much better at 37.3 percent. If Notre Dame wants to advance to Friday, they will need to shoot better than 6-for-26 (23%) from three and 3-for-7 (42%) from the free-throw line.

Virginia is a team that doesn’t have a ton of firepower on offense, but they’ll muck it up and have one of the best defenses in America. 

Mamadi Diakite scored 20 points against the Irish in February, so Notre Dame’s defensive plan likely starts with slowing him down. 

The Cavaliers are big and will start Diakite and Jay Huff, so how will Brey’s small ball lineup match up? We’ll see as Brey sounded like he’ll roll with Goodwin in the starting lineup for a second game.

“The lineup we start now is a little more conducive to play against a jammed-up defense because we can spread you a little bit and handle the ball a little better with our guards,” said Brey. “We rarely played Mooney and Durham together much tonight, which was kind of by design -- and I have all the respect in the world for Juwan Durham because he started every game, and he didn't sulk, he went about his business and had a great impact. And then Dane Goodwin -- Dane Goodwin and Nate Laszewsk have to play more for us. I've been trending this way. You start one of them, and then we've just got to get those guys on the court more.

“But hopefully with our smaller lineup, maybe we can open the floor up a little bit more. Easier said than done, though, against these guys.”

For Notre Dame to win, it starts on the offensive end. The Irish tried to slow things down in the first meeting and it may benefit them to just let it rip on this time around. TJ Gibbs needs to improve on his 2-for-11 showing and if he does, it likely opens the offense up. 

Notre Dame will need to hit double-digit threes and also out-rebound Virginia to win this one. 

Prediction: Virginia 61 Notre Dame 55

 
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