Things To Know: No. 11 Notre Dame Basketball Versus No. 6 North Carolina In 2021 ACC Tournament Second Round
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No. 11 Seed Notre Dame Vs. No. 6 North Carolina: Things To Know

In this strange and stressful season, Notre Dame has a chance to join rare company.

With a win on Wednesday, the Irish would have victories over Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina in the same season. They play the Tar Heels in the second round of the ACC Tournament Wednesday night (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2), an opportunity granted to them after Trey Wertz’s buzzer-beating three-pointer filched an 80-77 win over Wake Forest in the opening round.

Yes, these are not your father’s blue bloods. Kentucky, at 9-15, isn’t even on the NIT bubble. Duke’s NCAA Tournament hopes rest on winning the ACC Tournament. North Carolina is an unremarkable 16-9 and 10-6 in the ACC and seems destined for a No. 9 or 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball junior guard Trey Wertz after his buzzer-beater
Junior guard Trey Wertz (middle) hit a game-winner to send Notre Dame to the second round of the ACC Tournament. (ACC)

Notre Dame (11-14) has nothing to apologize for, though. It’ll take wins wherever they’re available. Even if that means sleeping at the wheel for 32 minutes against Wake Forest, a 6-16 team and the No. 14 seed, before awakening and ending the game on a 17-2 run.

“At the 10-minute mark, I said, ‘Fellas, how we finish the game is really going to determine a lot about how we go into next season for you returning guys,’” head coach Mike Brey said. “So how are you going to play it, seriously? Show me how you’re going to play it, because I’m really interested.

“They’ve taken a punch and come back, taken a punch and come back through games in a season, so I’m proud of the response.”

The Irish nearly beat all three traditional powers in 2015, but fell just short of ending Kentucky’s unbeaten season in the Elite Eight. Wednesday is their second shot at North Carolina this year. The Tar Heels pulled out a 66-65 win on Jan. 2 when Juwan Durham’s baseline jumper drew iron at the buzzer.

No. 11 seed Notre Dame vs. No. 6 North Carolina

When: Wednesday, March 10 at 9 p.m. ET

Where: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.

TV: ACC Network

Radio: Notre Dame basketball radio network

Series: North Carolina leads 26-8

Last meeting: North Carolina won 66-65 on Jan. 2 in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Line: North Carolina -6.5

KenPom prediction: North Carolina 77, Notre Dame 73

Other notes

North Carolina is the nation’s best offensive rebounding team, grabbing 40.6 percent of its missed shots. Freshman forward Day’Ron Sharpe leads all Division I players in offensive rebounding rate, at 18.7 percent. Sophomore forward Armando Bacot is not far behind him, at 36th nationally.

In the first meeting with Notre Dame, the Tar Heels had 22 offensive rebounds on their 45 missed field goals. That’s a 48.9 percent rate. It’s a troublesome matchup for Notre Dame, which enters the game ranked 198th in opponent offensive rebounding rate and started Wednesday’s game by spotting Wake Forest a 15-2 rebounding advantage.

• Guard play has been the source of North Carolina’s lower ceiling. Just one five of its primary guards is shooting better than 40.0 percent from the field. Freshman point guard Caleb Love shoots 32.0 percent and commits a turnover on 25.8 percent of his possessions. Of the five players who attempt at least one three-pointer per game, only freshman guard Kerwin Walton shoots better than 33.0 percent from deep.

Walton made four of his team’s eight three-pointers in the prior meeting with Notre Dame.

• Durham, an important figure in defending North Carolina's frontcourt, had a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double against Wake Forest and added three blocks.

• Junior guard Cormac Ryan’s last two games: 59 minutes, 25 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, two turnovers, two blocks and two steals. He is 5 of 10 from three-point range and 10 of 19 overall in that span. One of those blocks set up Wertz’s game-winning three.

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