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NC State will have its hands full slowing down Notre Dame

The latest ice cream opportunity is a tough one.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Since back-to-back Elite Eight runs in 2015 and 2016, Mike Brey’s Notre Dame program has been in a bit of a funk—he’s trying to get his team to the NCAAs for the first time since 2017. Judging by the Irish’s current No. 57 spot in the Pomeroy Ratings, there’s a good chance that, uh, he possibly might.

With the Irish you can almost always expect a team that has a good offense coupled with a mediocre-or-worse defense. This year is no exception.

2021-22 Notre Dame

... Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
... Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Offense 113.0 (30) 53.5 (45) 15.8 (27) 21.7 (335) 26.3 (280)
Defense 100.6 (123) 51.0 (224) 16.7 (288) 22.8 (16) 27.4 (109)

More than 44% of Notre Dame’s field goal attempts come from beyond the arc, where the Irish are shooting 37%—41% in league play. The Irish shoot the ball at an above-average clip inside the arc, too. Their usual combination of good shooting and strong ball security makes offensive boards more a luxury than a necessity, and they play that way.

They’re led offensively by freshman guard Blake Wesley, who quickly emerged as a star, and veteran wing Dane Goodwin. Both average about 15 points per game.

Wesley is operating in bulk, taking nearly a third of the shots while he’s on the court. He’s shown impressive versatility, proving a credible threat to score all over the court. Despite the huge workload, he’s made 53.5% of his twos. He’s shooting a more modest 33.3% from three, though that still ain’t bad considering.

Goodwin doesn’t take nearly as many shots, he’s just been substantially more efficient: 52.8% from two, 47.4% from three, 91.9% at the free throw line—and he rarely turns the ball over.

The rest of the lineup plays a secondary role for the most part, though big man Paul Atkinson, who is making about 63% of his twos, also averages in double figures. Atkinson is the only rotation player that isn’t a threat to shoot from beyond the arc.

Those guys have been good, and they’ve had to be given the obvious flaws they have at the defensive end. The Irish are up about 80 spots in defensive efficiency from last season, which is good, but still rank well below 100 in that category, which is not so great.

They really have to own their defensive glass and avoid fouls to have a shot at a decent performance here, because they don’t provide much resistance otherwise. The Irish are among the least disruptive teams NC State will face this season, ranking 276th in steal rate and 321st in block rate. There’s not much frightening about Notre Dame when they’re playing defense.

KenPom likes the Irish by seven.