Conference play is right around the corner, so over the course of the next two weeks, College Basketball Talk will be detailing what some of the country’s best, most intriguing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams should resolve to do with the New Year right around the corner. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood. Thank Jessica Simpson.
NOTRE DAME PROMISES TO: Beat some legitimate teams
- It will happen because: Well, it (likely) has to happen because of the loaded ACC schedule. So there’s that. But Notre Dame has played a ridiculously easy schedule to this point and its two best wins came over UMass and Michigan State. They own no RPI top-50 wins and have won every game in December by double digits after the win over the Spartans. But they’ll get plenty of quality wins because their starting five is so balanced and strong and Jerian Grant is playing at an All-American level. It also helps that Notre Dame only plays Louisville, North Carolina and Virginia one time each.
- But it might not because: Do we really know how good Notre Dame is if they don’t own a single top-50 win to this point in the season? Granted, they’ve only played Providence among that category, but Notre Dame has played such an easy schedule thus far that they might not be prepared for the rigors of the ACC. The Irish were missing Jerian Grant last season, but this same group went 6-12 last season in the ACC. They should fare better in the ACC this season, but how many of those wins will come against top-50 teams that can boost their NCAA Tournament profile?
NOTRE DAME ALSO SWEARS THEY WON’T: Rely too heavily on its starting five
- It will happen because: This team isn’t very deep. At all. When V.J. Beachem went down with injury during the non-conference portion of the season, the Fighting Irish relied heavily on a starting five that is already receiving extended minutes. And that came during the easy part of the schedule. Do you think Mike Brey is going to give extended bench minutes to players that he wouldn’t play against a horrible non-conference schedule?
- But it might not because: If Notre Dame wants to win certain games during the conference season, they’ll need to have other players step up when foul trouble or injury occurs. And it’s not like the role players have played poorly, it’s just clear that Brey feels comfortable with his main lineup and likes to stick with them. Beachem is shooting tremendous percentages off the bench when he’s been healthy. Martinas Geben, Austin Torres, Austin Burgett and Bonzie Colson are all shooting at least 52 percent from the field. While those four aren’t producing huge numbers, they at least know who to get the ball to when they’re in the lineup and they’re keeping it simple with their own offense.