Notre Dame (17-6, 6-4) at North Carolina (20-4, 8-2)
When: Sunday, February 5th 2017
Where: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
Time: 1:00 ET | TV: ESPN News
The North Carolina Tar Heels and Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take the court on Sunday, 19 hours after they were suppose to and at a different venue. Saturday’s scheduled contest was moved from Chapel Hill because of a water main break that has put the city in a state of emergency. The Tar Heels bounced back from a blowout loss at Miami to upend Pittsburgh 80-78 on Tuesday and stay a half game ahead of Florida State and Virginia in the ACC as junior guard Justin Jackson extended his streak of scoring at least 19 points to eight games by recording 20. North Carolina is sixth in the nation in scoring (88.0), but is having trouble on the other end of the floor, ranking 10th in the ACC in points-against per game (71.4). Joel Berry II was awful in the Miami game, going 0-for-8 from the field, but the junior bounced back to score 19 with five 3-pointers against Pitt. Jackson (18.7) leads the team in scoring with Berry (15.0), along with senior forwards Isaiah Hicks (12.8, 61.1 percent shooting) and Kennedy Meeks (12.6, 9.5 rebounds) all scoring in double-figures. The Tar Heels have won two of the last three meetings, including an 88-74 victory in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight last season.
The Irish are badly in need of a victory after dropping their last three contests and falling into the middle of the pack in the conference. In the most recent loss on Monday, Notre Dame allowed Duke to shoot 51.9% from the field in an 84-74 loss. The Irish need to generate some offense to break the losing streak as they stand 11th in conference games at 44.4% from the field and are averaging 62.7 points during the losing streak. Senior forward V.J. Beachem is averaging 21.5 points the last two games to push his season mark to 14.8 – second on the team behind junior forward Bonzie Colson (15.6, team-high 10.6 rebounds). The Irish could use a boost from senior guard Steve Vasturia (14.1 points), who has made just 9-of-35 from the field the last four games. Junior guard Matt Farrell (13.9 points) is hitting 42.3% from 3-point range and has bumped that up to 50% in ACC games. Notre Dame will host Wake Forest and Florida State next week.
I don’t believe that Notre Dame is as bad as they have played recently. Their shooting will come around today against the Tar Heels’ defense and keep this one close.
Pick: Notre Dame +9