WBB: Notre Dame!

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(N. C. State hosts Notre Dame; Sunday January 29th at 3 p.m.; ESPN)

State has a 3 and 8 record against Notre Dame. State has won 2 out of the last 3 games and if State had played Notre Dame in the 20-21 season, it would have been 3 out of the last 4. State's game against Notre Dame was canceled in the 20-21 season due to covid. In the 20-21 season State went 22-3 overall and 12-2 in conference while Notre Dame went 10-10 overall and 8-8 in conference. State would have hosted Notre Dame in 20-21, and I continue to think that we missed a chance to crush them in 20-21 like we did in 19-20 (90-56). Too bad as the opportunity to crush Notre Dame does not come around often.

State split with Notre Dame last season. State lost at Notre Dame 69-66 on February 1, 2022, State's only conference loss of the 21-22 season, and advanced to the elite eight of the NCAA Tournament with a 66-63 win on March 26, 2022 after Raina Perez with State trailing by 1 with 18 seconds left in the game stole the ball for Dara Mabrey and made a layup for the lead. Maddy Westbeld missed an arc shot with 4 seconds left. Raina, fouled on an inbounds play, iced the game with two free throws with one second left.

From warrennolan, the Irish have a 17-2 overall record; a 8-1 conference record; a Live RPI of 7; a NET of 6; an ELO of 6; a SOS of 16; a NET quad one record of 6-2; and a RPI quad one record of 6-2. While Notre Dame's best win was a 74-60 home win over NET 2 UConn, that win is suspect as Azzi Fudd played only 13 minutes due to a knee injury and did not score.

Again from warrennolan, the Wolfpack has a 15-5 overall record; a 5-4 conference record; a Live RPI of 11; a NET of 13; an ELO of 20, a SOS of 5; a NET quad one record of 5-4; and a RPI quad one record of 5-4. State's best win remains that at NET 9 Iowa.

With regard to Notre Dame, there are three players which stand out with five-ten sophomore Olivia Miles being the one of most concern as she is making a run for national player of the year along with Iowa's Caitlin Clark and South Carolina's Aliyah Boston. The other Irish players of concern are six-one sophomore Sonia Citron and six-three junior Maddy Westbeld.

In Notre Dame's 70-47 at home win over Florida State, Notre Dame besides the above three, started six-four graduate student Lauren Ebo and six-four junior Kylee Watson, Ebo starting in place of Dara Mabrey who is out for the season due to a knee injury. In the FSU game five-eleven freshman KK Bransford played 27 minutes and scored 15 on 6-11 from the floor.

Not surprisingly, Notre Dame's leading scorers are Miles at 15.1 ppg; Citron at 12.9 ppg and Westbeld at 10.3 ppg. Miles is also Notre Dame's leading rebound at 7.2 rpg and not only leads the team in assist at 7.1 apg but leads the ACC in assists.

Warrennolan likes Notre Dame over State by the score of 68-63 with a 67%-win probability. Lobo of Her Hoop Stats as usual likes State over Notre Dame 70.3 to 66.4 with a win probability of 62.8%. At Her Hoop Stats Notre Dame's Ratings are 36.5 value and 7/361 rank. For State the Ratings are 36.8 value and 6/361. Her Hoop Stats Simple RPI for N.D. is 6/361 while for State it is 8/361. Her Hoop Stats offensive and defensive rating for N.D. are 111.4 and 74.9 while for State they are 112.2 and 75.4.

The last time State lost more than four conference games was during the 2017-18 season when the team lost five conference games in a sixteen-game conference schedule. Keep this in mind. State went 12-4 in conference during the 2016-17 season and did not host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. State has hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament every season since. While the conference is balanced for the most part, can State afford 5 conference losses at this point in the season if the team wants to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament or finish in the top four of the conference standings giving the team a realistic shot at an ACC tournament four-peat?

I consider this game to be a "make or break" game although we could lose this one and win the rest. But. We need to win Sunday and I think we will. Go Pack!