Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Three in a Row? A Villanova-Notre Dame Primer

Manti Te'o and his girlfriend

Villanova basketball is riding on a high that they haven't felt since 2009, the program's best season in a generation. Tomorrow night, Villanova looks to win their third game in a row when they face off against Notre Dame in the Joyce Center.

Let's start out with what Notre Dame does well: score. While they don't always score in high volumes, they are able to score regardless of the pace of the game. They accomplish this by making 50% of their shots despite the snail-like tempo under which they prefer to operate, which has become an identity that Mike Brey seems to be willing to embrace, because they have been playing this way since 2010. Villanova has done a good job defensively as of late with every team other than Pitt. Villanova's problem is that Notre Dame is about as good offensively as Pitt is, which could be a problem.

Now for the bad: For a team as good offensively as Notre Dame, they are quite flawed defensively, with Ken Pomeroy's rankings tabbing them as the 186th best team in the country in that category, which puts them in the lower half. Basically, this year's Notre Dame is a poor man's version of the 2010 Villanova team, only slightly better on offense and much worse on defense. The only problem is that Notre Dame's weakness is parallel to Villanova's greatest weakness, which might level the playing field a bit, but Villanova's offense is much better in relative terms than Notre Dame's defense.

Bottom line: this is a winnable game, but it is also a prime game for a letdown, where Villanova plays abjectly horrible. We'll just have to wait until tomorrow to know for sure.

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