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Louisville-Notre Dame preview: Cards shoot for big win on Russ Smith Day

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The Yum Center should be as juiced as it’s been all season.

ACC Basketball Tournament - Second Round Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Louisville Cardinals (11-7, 5-3) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-6, 4-2)

Game Time: 4:05 p.m.

Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.

Television: ESPN

Announcers: Doug Sherman (play-by-play) and Chris Spatola (analyst)

Favorite: Louisville by 2.5

Officials: Lee Cassell, Clarence Armstrong, Lamar Simpson

Series: Louisville leads, 26-15

Last Meeting: Louisville won, 69-57, on Feb. 23, 2021 in Louisville

Series History:

Possible Starting Lineups:

Statistics:

Notre Dame’s Season to Date:

Relevant Videos:

About Notre Dame:

Notre Dame enters Saturday’s game against Louisville owning one of the more bizarre resumes in an extremely bizarre ACC.

The Irish, who haven’t played in the NCAA tournament since 2017, are 4-2 in the ACC and own impressive wins over Kentucky and North Carolina. They also have a head scratching 16-point loss to Boston College and a less-than-ideal neutral court loss to Saint Mary’s to their name.

As is the case with pretty much every Notre Dame team coached by Mike Brey, the Irish are elite in two areas: Shooting and taking care of the ball. Notre Dame leads the ACC in made three-pointers per game (8.9), is 50th in the nation in free-throw percentage (75.9%), and 21st in the nation in fewest turnovers per game (10.5). They’re a rock solid offensive team that has scored 71 or more points in five straight games and seven of their last eight.

Defensively, the Irish have had more issues, but their numbers still aren’t abysmal by any stretch. They enter Saturday ranked 100th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency. They don’t force many turnovers or block many shots, but they’re the 18th-best team in the country when it comes to limiting offensive rebounds and second chance opportunities.

The Irish have been led so far this season by Dane Goodwin, who is playing easily the best basketball of his college career to date. The senior guard leads the ACC in three-point percentage (47.5%), and is the only major conference player in America shooting .500 (.508) from the field, .400 (.474) from 3FG, .900 (.919) from FT and averaging over 15 (15.4) points per game. Goodwin has scored in double figures in all 17 of Notre Dame’s games so far this season.

Blake Wesley has established himself as one of the most dynamic freshman scorers in the ACC, and is one of the biggest reasons why the immediate future looks bright for the Irish. The 6’5 South Bend native has scored 20 or more points four times this season and hasn’t been held under 12 points since November.

Former Ivy League Player of the Year Paul Atkinson is Notre Dame’s most productive post player, averaging 11.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He’s a great athlete who handles the ball extremely well for someone his size. At 6’9, he’ll be giving up a few inches to Malik Williams, but his superior quickness and craftiness in the paint is going to give any Cardinal big who guards him some trouble.

Nate Laszewski, Trey Wertz, Cormac Ryan and Prentiss Hubb are all players who have played multiple seasons in South Bend and have established themselves as productive college players. Any one of them can go off and be the player of the game against the Cards.

Notable:

—During a halftime ceremony on Saturday, Louisville will retire the No. 2 that was worn by former Cardinal Russ Smith. Smith will become just the fifth U of L men’s basketball player to have his number retired.

—Louisville currently owns a six-game winning streak in this series. The Cards haven’t lost to Notre Dame since a road setback on Jan. 4, 2017.

—Louisville hasn’t lost a home game to Notre Dame since March 4, 2015.

—Nine of the last 23 games in this series have been decided in overtime. Four of those nine games have included multiple overtimes.

—From 1994 through 2013 Notre Dame and Louisville met 13 times and seven of those contests went to overtime. Louisville won four of those seven contests, but the Irish claimed three of the last four, including the epic 104-101 five overtime victory in Purcell Pavilion on Feb. 8, 2013.

—Louisville assistant coach Mike Pegues played for Notre Dame coach Mike Brey at Delaware (1996- 2000). Pegues scored 2,030 career points during his time with the Blue Hens.

—Chris Mack is 5-0 as a head coach against Notre Dame, including 4-0 as Louisville’s head coach. Mack’s Xavier team defeated Notre Dame in the first round of the 2012 NCAA tournament.

—Notre Dame’s Dane Goodwin is the only major conference player in America shooting .500 (.508) from the field, .400 (.474) from 3FG, .900 (.919) from FT and averaging over 15 (15.4) points per game. Goodwin leads the ACC in three-point field goal percentage.

—Noah Locke enters Saturday ranked third in the ACC in three-pointers made per game (2.5).

—Notre Dame is one of three major conference teams in the nation with two players ranked among the top 25 in three-point field goal percentage - Dane Goodwin (.474, 2nd) and senior Nate Laszewski (.444, t-13th). North Carolina and Purdue are the other teams.

—Louisville has a 63-19 record in conference home games over the last 10 years (.768).

—Notre Dame is 9-0 this season when shooting a better percentage from the field than their opponents.

—Notre Dame is 7-0 this season when making 10 or more three-point shots.

—Louisville has an all-time 16-11 record in games played on Jan. 22, winning tthe last two games played on that date.

—Louisville has a 48-19 record during the month of January over the last six years.

—Notre Dame leads the ACC in three-pointers per game (8.9) and is 21st in the nation in fewest turnovers per game (10.5).

—Notre Dame is 7-0 at home this season, but 3-3 in true road games.

—Louisville is 10-1 this season when shooting a better field goal percentage than their opponents.

—Louisville is 8-1 this season when outrebounding its opponents and also 8-1 when shooting more free-throws than their foes. Against Boston College on Wednesday, the Cards won for just the second time this season when being outrebounded.

—Louisville is 216-12 over the last 20 seasons and 13-0 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more.

—Louisville is 166-7 over the past 20 seasons when shooting 50 percent or better and 13-0 over the last three.

—Louisville is 34-3 over the last three seasons when scoring at least 71 points.

—Louisville is 14-0 over the past 10 seasons when limiting opponents to no more than one three-point field goal.

—Since 2004, Louisville is 130-0 when leading by more than 10 points at halftime.

—Louisville has won 162 consecutive games when holding an opponent under 50 points.

—Louisville has won 156 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.

—Louisville is one of only five schools to be ranked in the AP Top 25 poll at least once during each of the last 18 seasons (others: Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, & North Carolina).

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 69, Notre Dame 68