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NC State ends ACC slate with offense-heavy Notre Dame

Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

NC State wraps up its regular-season slate with a road game against Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon. The Wolfpack is trying to limp back above .500, while the Irish are trying to further solidify an at-large NCAA tournament bid.

ND Offense -- Four Factors eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
2015-16 Overall (National Rank) 53.7 (35) 14.0 (3) 33.0 (67) 33.1 (267)
2015-16 ACC Only (Conf. Rank) 51.5 (4) 13.2 (1) 31.8 (8) 33.1 (9)

The Irish aren't the same without Jerian Grant, understandably, but they still pack plenty of firepower.

Mike Brey has one hell of a talent for constructing good offenses, and constructing them without blue-chip recruits. Since 2002, Notre Dame has finished outside the top 50 in offensive efficiency exactly two times. The Irish have finished in the top 10 six times over that span.

Losing Grant and Pat Connaughton certainly had an impact--this team is paper-thin, for one thing--but Brey had enough veterans returning to keep the buckets flowing. Point guard Demetrius Jackson and forward Zach Auguste are the leaders on offense this season, but Notre Dame is pretty balanced, with no one player accounting for a huge proportion of the offense.

Bonzie Colson's big sophomore campaign has been a significant reason why the Irish have been able to live on in the post-Grant era, with little-to-no depth. He was fantastic in limited time last season, and he's been able to carry over that efficiency into a larger role. He's hitting 54.6% of his twos, he's a good free throw shooter, an excellent offensive rebounder, and the team's best shot blocker. Very good player who doesn't get enough credit from ACC media members.

Forward VJ Beachem and Arrakis Spice Lord Steve Vasturia round out the lineup. Both are excellent three-point shooters. The versatility of Notre Dame's starting five is impressive, and obviously it's making for good results. Beyond that five, though? Who knows.

The irish have a trio of underclassmen occupying most of the minutes off the bench. The most likely one to impact the scoring is Matt Ryan, who is a three-point specialist.

The trouble is forcing the Irish to confront their short bench. They've been good at avoiding fouls, and their core is so efficient, they can operate fine in the absence of a member of their rotation. Some teams will be able to exploit their lack of depth in March. NC State is not one of those teams.

ND Defense -- Four Factors eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
2015-16 Overall (National Rank) 49.7 (167) 14.8 (337) 30.1 (195) 26.9 (14)
2015-16 ACC Only (Conf. Rank) 50.3 (10) 14.3 (13) 31.8 (6) 30.5 (4)

If Brey could figure out this end of the floor, his Irish teams would be a lot less inconsistent. They're usually below average on defense, and 2016 is no exception, as the Irish rank 169th in defensive efficiency. (That's worse than State's ranking.)

Notre Dame doesn't force turnovers, and it's only average-ish on the defensive glass, which is a problem when your perimeter defense is bad and opponents have been making an unusually high percentage of their free throws. At least they don't put opponents on the line a lot, because that's the extent of that situation that Notre Dame can control.

Notre Dame's offense makes it a dangerous tournament team, but its defense also makes this team a great candidate to burn out early.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes Notre Dame by eight.