College Basketball Pick
There is a multitude of teams in the ACC waiting for North Carolina to slip up once or twice this season. Two of them are Notre Dame and Miami (FL), both with three Conference losses (tied with three other teams). The Tar Heels may have a hold on the ACC’s first place at the moment, but they have yet to play a ranked team in their first eight Conference Games. Both of these teams have had extreme highs and lows this year and getting wins over ranked teams will only help their respective resumes.
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Miami at one point was a Top 10 team, but has since lost three of its last Four road Games, most recently a 16-point loss at NC State. The Hurricanes have plenty of nice wins, most notably over Duke, but they also lost a home Game to Northeastern early in the season and that won’t get overlooked by the committee. Still, it can’t be ignored that Miami hasn’t lost at home in Conference play, winning its Four Games by double digits.
Notre Dame is in a similar situation with early-season losses to Monmouth and Alabama. However, the Fighting Irish also have a win over Iowa and took down Duke on the road a couple weeks ago. That Duke win was quite impressive, but getting another road win against a good Conference team won’t be easy.
Miami is coming off a bad loss, allowing NC State point guard Cat Barber to drop 30 points. The loss should give them extra motivation, but the problem is that Notre Dame is also led by a quick, feisty point guard in Demetrius Jackson. Jackson is coming off a huge Game himself with 14 points, 7 boards, 8 assists and 6 steals against Wake Forest. It was an all-around great performance, despite going 1-of-6 from deep.
The Hurricanes have great guard play as well, but the trio of Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan and Ja’Quan Newton need to play better defense because Jackson is not an easy player to deal with. All three of those guards had Four fouls while dealing mostly with Barber in that 17-point loss.
But on the other end of that, how will Notre Dame defend Miami’s guards? The three guys listed above are the Hurricanes’ top three scorers (not to forget Davon Reed, Fourth-leading scorer). Jackson and Steve Vasturia are going to have a big task of defending those guys.
Down low, the matchups will be interesting with Miami’s Tonye Jekiri (9.8 rpg), a 7-footer, and Notre Dame’s Zach Auguste (10.1 rpg, 6-foot-10). When Auguste is having a good Game, Notre Dame is usually having a good Game. Jekiri isn’t a huge offensive threat, but his main use is on the defensive end and if his size can give Auguste some issues, the Irish will need more out of Vasturia on the perimeter, along with Bonzie Colson and VJ Beachem.
This may be a battle of guards, but it could come down to what happens in the paint. One of those x-factors is the Irish’s Austin Burgett, who’s only averaging 3.7 minutes per Game on the year, but made his first start of the year against Wake Forest on Sunday, playing 25 minutes and scoring 14 points. With Burgett starting, Colson (12.4 ppg) gives the Irish a new element off the bench.
With Rodriguez and McClellan in the backcOurt, not many will take down Miami in Coral Gables this season, however, Notre Dame has the tools to do it.
Predicted Score- Miami 85 Notre Dame 72