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The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a First Four matchup. Since it is the playoffs, neither of these teams have home-court advantage, but Notre Dame might have a lot of fans coming from South Bend.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish had an impressive season in the ACC but never beat the conference’s best teams.
They had a surprisingly short seven-man rotation in the regular season that may get shorter in this game.
Even though Notre Dame lacks depth, they still won 15 games in conference play. The Fighting Irish are led by guards Blake Wesley and Dana Goodwin and forward Paul Atkinson Jr. Wesley is a shooter who averages 14.6 points per game; Wesley is not the strongest shooter but does well enough to lead his team in scoring. After Wesley, Dana Goodwin scores the next most points at 13.9 per game.
Goodwin is much more efficient and hits over 50% of his total shots and almost 45% of his three-point attempts. Finally, we have Paul Atkinson Jr. Atkinson Jr. makes a living off rebounding and shots near the hoop. He grabs seven rebounds a game and shoots 57.8% from the field.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights did not play very well against Big Ten opponents this season. They went 12-8 but played well enough to make March Madness.
The Scarlet Knights are led by guard Ron Harper Jr. (son of NBA Champion Ron Harper) and center Clifford Omoruyi. Harper Jr. is the top scorer on a Rutgers squad that struggles to score; he averages 15.6 points on 43.4% shooting. Omoruyi, on the other hand, is a rebounding big man who shoots well from inside the paint.
He grabs 7.9 boards per game and scores 11.8 points on 61.8% shooting. Rutgers may struggle to score, but they have a deeper rotation than Notre Dame, so I expect them to win.
Rutgers beats Notre Dame 66-63. Rutgers covers, Under 131 points.
|Mike Brey||Head Coach||Steve Pikiell|
|22-10 (15-5, 3rd in ACC)||Standing||18-13 (12-8, 6th in Big Ten)|
|Leader (Per Game)|
|Blake Wesley (14.6)||PPG||Ron Harper Jr. (15.6)|
|Paul Atkinson Jr. (7.0)||RPG||Clifford Omoruyi (7.9)|
|Prentiss Hubb (4.0)||APG||Paul Mulcahy (5.3)|
|Blake Wesley (1.2)||SPG||Caleb McConnell (2.2)|
|Paul Atkinson Jr. (0.6)||BPG||Clifford Omoruyi (1.3)|
|Paul Atkinson Jr. (.578)||FG%||Clifford Omoruyi (.618)|
|Nate Laszewski (.460)||3P%||Ron Harper Jr. (.390)|
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are just barely the underdogs in this game. They have to play to their strengths to make it to the First Round. Notre Dame must protect the rim and avoid fouls.
Notre Dame plays good defense but does not protect the rim very well. The Fighting Irish do not have any shot blockers and only average 1.9 blocks per game. They need to step up this game and protect the rim. This should not be too difficult, as Rutgers is a guard-heavy team.
Notre Dame has a short seven-man rotation. That rotation worked well during the season, but everything changes in the playoffs. If one of those seven players gets in foul trouble, Notre Dame will struggle. The Fighting Irish have to avoid fouling to give themselves a chance.
Take a look at NCAA tournament predictions and picks!
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are the favorites, but this game can go either way. Rutgers needs to tire out the Notre Dame and win the rebounding battle.
Notre Dame is playing with a short rotation, so Rutgers needs to outrun them and make them tired. If they do so, Notre Dame will be forced to go to lesser-used players. Lesser-used players often lack the experience necessary for games like these.
Rutgers is not a great rebounding team, but they are not the worst. They average 35.4 rebounds per game. They need to crash the boards and win the rebounding battle to win the game. Usually, the team with more rebounds comes out on top.
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Guard Prentiss Hubb is not a standout player. He only averages 9.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and four assists per game. However, he is the starting point guard and plays over 33 minutes per game.
Hubb is not a particularly good shooter and does not create many opportunities for himself, but it does not matter. He runs the Notre Dame offense and played a large part in their 15 conference wins this season. His play has been invaluable to the Fighting Irish and will continue to be invaluable in this game.
Forward Ron Harper Jr. is critical to this Rutgers team. He is a consistent scorer on a team with no other consistent scores. He scores 15.6 points per game and shoots well from all over the floor.
Harper Jr. needs to take over for the Scarlet Knights in this game. I do not care how he takes over, but he must be a man on a mission.
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|Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights Information|
|What||Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights|
|Where||UD Arena, Dayton, Ohio|
|When||Wednesday, March 16, 9:10 PM EST|
|How to Watch||truTV|
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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