Virginia Tech at Notre Dame
Date, Time, TV: Saturday, March 7, 2pm, The ACC Network
Virginia Tech’s final regular season game will come on Saturday at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish (18-12, 9-10) have been resurgent this year under Mike Brey after a couple of down years, though two losses in a row have left the squad very much on the outside looking in when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame would have to beat the Hokies (16-14, 7-12) plus make a deep run in the ACC Tournament, otherwise they are NIT bound.
This will be the first meeting of the year between the two schools. The Irish had won seven of nine games before hitting a recent skid by losing on the road to Wake Forest (84-73) and at home to Florida State (73-71). The FSU loss is understandable, but the loss to Wake Forest was a difficult one for a team looking to sneak into the NCAA Tournament.
This Notre Dame team has been efficient on the offensive end this year, ranking No. 37 in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency. However, they rank No. 118 in adjusted defensive efficiency, and defense has been their undoing in most of their losses.
Offensively this is a team that relies on the three-point basket nearly as much as Virginia Tech. Check out the following numbers…
% of points off 3-pointers: 39% (No. 18 nationally)
% of points off 2-pointers: 45.5% (No. 315)
% of points of free throws: 15.5% (No. 317)
Virginia Tech is often pointed out as a team that is completely reliant on three-pointers. Here’s how the Hokies compare in the same rankings…
% of points off 3-pointers: 42.5% (No. 5 nationally)
% of points off 2-pointers: 43.5% (No. 333)
% of points of free throws: 14% (No. 345)
Suffice to say that there will be plenty of three-pointers attempted during Saturday’s game.
Despite Notre Dame’s reliance on outside shooting, perhaps the toughest matchup in this game will be Irish double-double machine John Mooney (6-9, 245, Sr.). Mooney averages 16.8 points and a whopping 12.8 rebounds per game. That includes a total of 109 offensive rebounds. Mooney has dished out 53 assists on the season, and he’s also a good enough outside shooter to keep defenses honest.
The Hokies will surely have to double team Mooney thanks to their lack of size. Their defensive rotation will have to be on point, because Mooney is capable of kicking out to a number of quality three-point shooters.
#10 TJ Gibbs (6-3, 185, Sr.): 41.2%
#23 Dane Goodwin (6-6, 200, So.): 38.3%
#3 Prentiss Hubb (6-3, 175, So.): 34.1%
#0 Rex Pflueger (6-6, 218, r-Sr.): 33.3%
With a victory over Notre Dame, Virginia Tech can guarantee themselves a winning record for the 2019-20 season. It would be their fifth consecutive season with a winning record.