NC State is on to Notre Dame on Wednesday night and hoping to put that gross performance at Clemson behind it. The Irish play a much more forgiving brand of defense, which is helpful, and they’ll also be without all-everything forward Bonzie Colson, who is out for the foreseeable future with a foot injury.
To the bullets:
— Colson is averaging 21.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this season, doing his usual Bonzie Colson things; no doubt that this is a massive loss for Notre Dame, which wasn’t deep to begin with. Only seven Irish players, Colson included, average double-digit minutes per game.
— Colson’s absence puts a lot of pressure on the rest of that starting five to assume a larger part of the offense, since his loss knocks another rung off of what was already a mostly-nonexistent bench. But I also wouldn’t doubt Mike Brey’s ability to construct competent offense out of whatever materials he has to work with—his Notre Dame teams are almost always elite at that end.
— Maybe the bigger question lies defensively, where Colson ranked in the top 100 nationally in block percentage, steal percentage, and defensive rebounding percentage. Interior defense has been a strength for Notre Dame so far this season, but could be this is where Colson’s injury is felt most significantly.
— The Irish defense has been making a living on missed twos, since they aren’t disruptive and are only average on the glass. If the reorganized lineup starts to bleed a little bit in the paint, that’s going to hurt Notre Dame’s overall prospects considerably. I’m just not sure this NC State team is the one to get that started.
— Don’t expect turnovers to be a factor in the outcome—the Irish offense ranks second nationally in turnover percentage, and I wouldn’t think ball security becomes a major issue now. NC State most likely ain’t turning this game by forcing like 20 turnovers, though that’d be fine if that’s what happens.
— NC State needs to avoid bailing out Irish possessions with fouls. The Irish shoot 77.6% at the stripe as a team, which ranks 16th nationally. They have several starters shooting well above 80% from the line, so the more free throws they generate, the less Colson’s absence matters.
— Keep them off the line, shoot reasonably well from three, and win on the boards, and perhaps there’s a chance for NC State in this one. Still the odds aren’t great. KenPom likes Notre Dame by 10.