Louisville Cardinals (11-12, 5-8) at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (16-7, 9-3)
Game Time: 7:01 p.m.
Location: Purcell Pavilion at the Edmund P. Joyce Center: Notre Dame, Ind.
Announcers: Anish Shroff (play-by-play) and Jordan Cornette (analyst)
Favorite: Notre Dame by 7
Officials: Ted Valentine, Bert Smith, A.J. Desai
Series: Louisville leads, 26-16
Last Meeting: Notre Dame won 82-70 on Jan. 22, 2022 in Louisville
Possible Starting Lineups:
About Notre Dame:
It’s been just 18 days since the last time these two teams squared off against one another. It may as well have been 18 years.
Since Notre Dame’s 82-70 Yum Center triumph on Jan. 22, the Fighting Irish have finally eliminated the inconsistencies that plagued the first half of their season, and have won six of their last seven. They enter Wednesday night’s game tied with Duke atop the ACC standings with a 9-3 record.
Louisville meanwhile, has lost its head coach, and five consecutive games for the first time in 22 years. A 4-0 start to conference play for the Cards has turned into a 5-8 mark without a whole lot of hope for any sort of significant improvement on the horizon.
Mike Brey’s team is inching closer to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2017 thanks largely to its excellence in two areas: Shooting and taking care of the ball. Notre Dame is second in the ACC in three-pointers per game (8.8) and 19th in the nation in fewest turnovers per game (10.4). The Irish also rank third in the nation in fewest fouls per game (13.1).
Defensively, the Irish have had a few more issues, but their numbers still aren’t abysmal by any stretch and have increased significantly during their current run of success. They enter Saturday ranked 68th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency. They don’t force many turnovers or block many shots, but they’re a terrific defensive rebounding team and are the 50th-best team in Division-I at keeping their opponents off the free-throw line.
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 is the only major conference player in the nation with 14.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, .500 FG, .400 3FG, .850 FT numbers. His 47.2 percent hit rate from beyond the three-point line is the best of any player in the ACC. When Goodwin was held scoreless against Duke two Mondays ago, it was the only time this season he failed to score in double figures.
Former U of L recruit Blake Wesley has established himself as one of the best scoring freshmen in the entire country. The 6’5 South Bend native is one of just two true freshmen in the country with at least 300 points, 70 rebounds, 60 assists and 25 steals. He dropped a game-high 22 on the Cards last month. He’s very, very good, and he’s only going to get better.
Former Ivy League Player of the Year Paul Atkinson is Notre Dame’s most productive post player, averaging 16.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. He’s a great athlete who handles the ball extremely well for someone his size. Atkinson also enters this game playing the best basketball of his season. He’s the reigning ACC Player of the Week after averaging 17 pts and 10 reb in three games last week. He provides a significant matchup problem for a guy like Sydney Curry, who, while very skilled offensively, has had his defensive limitations exploited a bit recently.
Nate Laszewski (who will be a game-time decision according to Brey), 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.
—Louisville is in the midst of its first five-game losing streak since 2000. The Cardinals haven’t lost six games in row since 1991.
—Notre Dame’s 82-70 win over Louisville inside the KFC Yum Center last month snapped a six-game winning streak for the Cardinals in this series.
—Louisville has never lost to Notre Dame twice in the same season.
—Wednesday marks the nine-year anniversary of Notre Dame’s 104-101 five overtime victory over Louisville in South Bend, the longest regular season game in the history of the Big East. It was also the last loss of U of L’s 2012-13 national championship season.
—Nine of the last 24 games in this series have been decided in overtime. Four of those nine games have included multiple overtimes.
—Notre Dame is 9-1 this season at home. Their lone loss at the Joyce Center came against Duke (57-43) on Jan. 31.
—Louisville has not lost a road game to Notre Dame since Jan. 4, 2017.
—Notre Dame is 13-0 this season when shooting a better percentage from the field than their opponents.
—The Fighting Irish are also 10-0 this season when they make 10 or more three-pointers.
—Louisville’s 34 ACC road wins in its eighth year in the league is the fourth-most in the ACC in that period.
—According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Louisville is a 7-point underdog in this game. The Cardinals are 3-6 straight up as an underdog so far this season, and have lost four straight.
—This will be the first game back for Louisville senior captain Malik Williams, who was suspended for U of L’s games against North Carolina and Syracuse last week.
—Notre Dame is the first team in the nation this season to have five 1,000 career point scorers on its roster - Paul Atkinson Jr., Dane Goodwin, Prentiss Hubb, Trey Wertz and Nate Laszewski.
—Louisville interim head 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.
—Brey is 3-0 in his career in games against head coaches who were his former players.
—Pegues is 5-4 as Louisville’s interim head coach this season, losing all three games since U of L’s parting of ways with former head coach Chris Mack on Jan. 26.
—Notre Dame PG Prentis Hubb’s 6.1 assist-turnover ratio in ACC play so far this year is the best of any player in the country in conference play this season.
—A win over Louisville would momentarily move Notre Dame ahead of Duke and into first place alone atop the ACC standings.
—Notre Dame has held its last five ACC opponents to 65 points or less. That’s the best streak for the program since it joined the league in 2013-14.
—Notre Dame senior forward Nate Laszewski suffered a leg bruise in the team’s win over NC State and will be a “game-time decision” against Louisville.
—This is the first time a Louisville team has dropped at least 12 of its first 23 games since the Cardinals started 9-14 in Denny Crum’s final season of 2000-01.
—Louisville is 216-13 over the last 20 seasons and 13-1 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more. That lone defeat came in last week’s 90-83 overtime loss to North Carolina.
—Louisville is 166-7 over the past 20 seasons when shooting 50 percent or better from the field and 13-0 over the last three.
—Louisville is 34-4 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). The Cardinals have not been ranked this season.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Notre Dame 71, Louisville 63