Say this much for Mike Brey: the man is committed to raising the entertainment value of ACC basketball. There aren’t many coaches as good as Brey at constructing efficient offenses, it just that more often than not, his teams also play mediocre-or-worse defense.
In 18 of the prior 20 seasons, Brey’s offense finished in the top 50 in efficiency. And only once in that time did his defense do the same. This year is not going to alter the trend, as the Irish are 14th in offensive efficiency and 176th in defensive efficiency.
Notre Dame is a lot like Syracuse in that it rarely has any bench to work with, and while Brey’s teams generally are excellent at avoiding foul trouble, that comes at the expense of taking any risks at the defensive end. The Irish routinely are among the least disruptive teams in the country, and that’s no different this year—their defensive turnover rate ranks 347th.
Notre Dame is also an average-ish defensive rebounding team, which is made all the worse by the lack of takeaways. Fortunately, the Irish have decent size and their paint defense has been solid—Juwan Durham is a good rim protector—but opponents have also shot 36.6% from three.
The Irish also mostly dispense with free throws at the offensive end (see? entertainment value!) and this is the ACC’s worst offensive rebounding team, but they shoot it at a high level and take great care of the ball, and that’s all you need for a great offense.
They rank 31st in 2FG%, 40% in 3FG%, 30th in FT%, and 13th in turnover rate.
Prentiss Hubb (6’3, 175) leads the way for this offense and probably won’t be on the bench much, if at all, seeing as how he’s averaging 37 minutes per game. Hubb is an excellent distributor in addition to being a solid jump shooter.
In the paint, Juwan Durham (6’11, 231) has hit better than 62% of his twos and ranks 56th nationally in block rate. Notre Dame also has efficiency machine Nate Laszewski (6’10, 227), who is having the most quietly brilliant season in recent memory. The team has a losing record and he’s not a high-usage guy, so these things happen.
But Laszewski has been insane: 72% on twos and 46% on threes, which is good enough to give him the fourth-best effective field goal percentage in the country. In league play, he is tops among all ACC players. Dude is a tough matchup.
NC State is gonna need extra focus at the defensive end tonight in order to slow down Notre Dame, but most likely both teams are going to have efficient performances offensively. KenPom likes the Irish by three.