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Notre Dame

at

Louisville

College Basketball

Pick

3/4/17

These teams may not have to worry about being on the bubble, but both still can make plenty of noise to better their seed. Louisville is still in contention for a 1-seed in the NCAA tournament with a win here and a deep run in the ACC tourney. Notre Dame may not be aiming for the same thing, but could lock up a 4-seed with a season sweep of the Cardinals and closing the regular season on a seven-game winning streak is never a bad thing.

When these teams met in early January, Louisville took a 2-0 lead, but Notre Dame hit a three a never looked back in a 77-70 win. The Fighting Irish played smart basketball and got 64 of their points from Matt Farrell, Steven Vasturia and Bonzie Colson. The Cardinals struggled from long range going just 7-of-27 and that was the main difference despite having eight steals and 14 offensive rebounds. Winning on the road is another story, but Notre Dame has been one of the better road teams in the conference, beating the likes of Miami and Virginia Tech, while also taking Florida State down to the wire. But none of those places are the KFC Yum! Center where Louisville has lost just once this season, all the way back in December, its conference opener against Virginia. The Cardinals have put together some blowouts, but more importantly beat teams like Kentucky and Duke at home. To go with that, it'll be the last home game of the season and while Louisville isn't filled with seniors (Mangok Mathiang), it'll still have plenty of relevance.

The problem for Louisville in the first meeting was that it couldn't use Mathiang and Jaylen Johnson as much as Rick Pitino would've liked as it's almost impossible to guard Notre Dame's small ball lineup with those two both playing. Colson finished with 18 points for the Irish, but he was the main instigator, bringing his defenders outside of the paint, which led to open lanes for Farrell and Vasutria. That said, Louisville's pressure got to Farrell and Vasturia late and brought the Cardinals all the way back to one point down before they had to start fouling. Playing on the road, that pressure is going to be a huge issue for Farrell and Vasturia.

To win a game like this, Notre Dame is going to need one of VJ Beachem's better games, similar to the 27 points he scored at NC State a week ago. Expecting to beat Louisville again with only three players isn't the route to take as others will need to step up. As for the Cardinals, things should go a bit better for them offensively than the first meeting when Donovan Mitchell and Quentin Snider had trouble with their shot. To go with that, it's hard to see the Louisville bigs struggling as much again, with Anas Mahmoud and Ray Spalding in addition to Johnson and Mathiang. While it's not a great matchup for them defensively, one of them will see a lot of Beachem and he's probably Notre Dame's worst defender. If Louisville can exploit that matchup this time around, that'll be the difference.

The Fighting Irish are playing great, but winning road games at Boston College and NC State can't be compared to Louisville. The Cardinals have their eyes on some postseason wins and will look to close the regular season out at home on a good note.

Our Pick - Louisville -8

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