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ACC action tips tonight as the UNC Tarheels visit Notre Dame.
Having shed prime talent from last season’s highly-regarded squad, the North Carolina Tarheels’ struggles are well documented. Roy Williams admitted as much when he stated this year’s cast is his least effective in recent memory. Following an early Indian summer 6-1 start, including wins vs. Oregon, Alabama and tonight’s opponent, iconic UNC has dropped 14 of 18 to stand 10-15 (3-11 ACC).
Notre Dame is already one win improved from 2019 after finding respectability midway through conference action. Many of the Irish’s setbacks have come by the hard-luck route: four of the team's past five losses were one-possession affairs. Of course, Duke routed the Irish Saturday 94-60 to place ND at 15-10 (6-8 ACC).
While North Carolina’s postseason hopes are essentially nil, predictive models rate Notre Dame solid among NIT programs.
UNC aims for season sweep of host Notre DameDealing with injuries and poor execution, North Carolina vaguely resembles the group which bested Notre Dame 76-65 to open 2019-2020 regular season play. That evening highly-touted frosh Cole Anthony debuted grandly dropping 34 points and 11 rebounds as UNC brushed off the Irish. Injured mid-season, Anthony has since returned to average 19.3 ppg, though his Tarheels can’t regain lost momentum. North Carolina basketball isn’t accustomed to being buried among the Atlantic Coast standings, but this season has become trying to say the least.
Overall, UNC averages 71 ppg and allows 71.5 ppg. The Tarheels have dropped five-straight the hard way, losing tight contests vs. Virginia, Duke, Florida State, and Boston College. Unable to find crunch-time execution, tonight’s contest will likely become another futile exercise for Roy Williams’ men.
The Tarheels are 2-6 away.
Notre Dame looks to improve postseason resume with win tonightJust as UNC basketball has fallen along a rough patch, behind senior leadership the Irish are building successful habits for this season and beyond. John Mooney’s 16.4 ppg and 12.8 rebs combine with TJ Gibb’s 13.2 ppg to give the Irish credible scoring among a solid eight-player rotation. The Irish used that balance to reel four straight wins before dropping consecutive outings heading into today’s ACC encounter. Following a one-point loss vs. Virginia, Duke opened the floodgates opposite ND. A quick regroup is necessary this evening for Mike Brey’s men.
𝗖𝗛𝗔𝗥𝗧 𝗖𝗟𝗜𝗠𝗕𝗜𝗡𝗚 • @Tempppp12 looks to become the 17th player in Notre Dame history to reach the 1,500 point milestone (the seventh in the @NDMikeBrey era).— Notre Dame MBB (@NDmbb) February 14, 2020
He has 1,480 points heading into tomorrow's game vs. Duke → https://t.co/csbwNLhWgg#GoIrish pic.twitter.com/PViTXYVULl
Overall, Notre Dame adds 74.5 ppg and allows 68.7. The Irish commit the nation’s fewest fouls and third-fewest turnovers. A win tonight from the Irish would take another step in enhancing the group’s already noted postseason resume. To gain revenge vs. slumping UNC, Notre Dame must operate under control and play to their veteran strengths opposite an inexperienced, visiting squad.
The Irish are 12-3 at home.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Irish have far more momentum and motivation for a win tonight than their visitor. Needing every final score edge to enhance a solid secondary postseason resume, Notre Dame will play to its strengths and gain victory vs. UNC. John Mooney and his solid backup offense will gain easy baskets while navigating UNC’s lax zone. Meanwhile, the Tarheels’ poor late-game execution will continue in this revenge setting for Brey’s Irish. Take Notre Dame to get the win.
Prediction: Notre Dame
Full-Game Total Pick
I’ll take the Over for today’s staple ACC clash between the host Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the visiting North Carolina Tarheels. Neither group presents an exceptional defense, and UNC has trouble stopping opposing groups from gaining quick transition baskets and outside makes. Likewise, teams have been able to lean on the Irish a bit inside as Mooney is the group’s lone standout paint presence. Behind the zone curve, expect an Over total tonight as the Irish and Tarheels trade baskets.