Notre Dame’s 67-56 win over Akron wasn’t pretty, but it might have been the perfect game for the Irish’s Final Four hopes.
The Southwest’s No. 2 seed kept pulling away from the 15-seed Zips, using 9-0 runs here and 6-0 runs there. But the Zips never really went away because of some timely 3-pointers and nasty interior defense. Hey, you got a 7-foot center like Zeke Marshall, you use him.
It wasn’t until the final five minutes when Notre Dame opened a 59-45 lead that finally put things away. So where’s the upside?
Every team needs a game where they’re pushed if they hope to make a Final Four run. Duke had it last year with Baylor and Purdue, West Virginia had it vs. Washington and Missouri and Butler had it vs. pretty much everyone.
Besides, it’s not like the Irish (27-6) were awful. They hit 7 of 17 3-pointers and had an eFG% of 52. Ben Hansbrough was just 4 of 11, but everyone else was right around 50 percent. The main concern has to be the perimeter defense, but that won’t be a huge issue in the next game whether it’s Florida State or Texas A&M.
A win’s a win in March. Doesn’t have to be perfect.
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