Few head coaches in the country get as much respect as Mike Brey of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He’s stepping down at the conclusion of the season, and if his team can help it, that departure will be delayed for a little while.
On Tuesday, the Irish will take on the Virginia Tech Hokies in the first round of the ACC basketball tournament, slated for 7 PM ET at Greensboro, NC.
Virginia Tech is actually the defending champion, having won this historic conference tournament last season.
In the odds that have been posted on the game at BetOnline, the Irish are solid underdogs:
Virginia Tech Hokies -7
Notre Dame Fighting Irish +7
Over 144 Points -110
Under 144 Points -110
The only way Brey’s career at Notre Dame will be extended is if the Irish win this game and go on to win the ACC tourney. That’s not likely to happen. He started the season with some promise, winning the first five games. And there was a surprise win over Michigan State on November 30. But things had slid downhill since. And a 3-17 record in the ACC was the result.
Nine of Notre Dame’s 20 losses have come by double digits. Interestingly enough, six of the Irish’s last seven losses have been single-digit.
These teams played on February 11, with the Hokies returning with a 93-87 win. Grant Basile had 33 points for Notre Dame, while the Irish had 13 triples and were led by their own 33-point man, Nate Laszewski, a 6-10 forward with a nice touch from the outside.
Brey’s teams usually do a good job taking care of the ball, and the Irish are the third-best in the nation in turnover rate. They stretch defenses, with 38% of their points coming on triples. And they are experienced, with six players in their fifth year of college ball. But they do not hit the offensive boards at all (355th in that category), and they do not force turnovers on the defensive end.
This is just as well since V-Tech doesn’t cough it up much (13th-best on offensive turnover percentage). The Hokies (18-13) will be playing somewhere in the post-season, even if it’s just the NIT or the CBI. The affable Mike Young, who won 299 games at Wofford before coming over, has guided this team to some important wins over Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina. However, a seven-game losing streak early in the ACC schedule hurt them badly, which probably disappointed the fans wagering at online basketball betting sites.
Basile, a transfer from Wright State, is dangerous, with a shade under 40% from three-point territory. Laszewski gives ND about the same thing, Point guard Darius Maddox, who is ninth in the country in turnover rate, has been sitting out with “family issues.” This doesn’t bury Virginia Tech, as the Hokies have been getting along without him. But it could give the Irish, playing extra hard for their departing coach, a chance to keep things close, as they have been doing lately. So we’ll take the points.
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