Busting Brackets

Virginia at Notre Dame: 2021-22 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

Jan 26, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Cormac Ryan (5) reacts after an offensive foul call against the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the second half at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 26, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Cormac Ryan (5) reacts after an offensive foul call against the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the second half at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports /

Virginia comes to visit South Bend Saturday evening to take on Notre Dame. Can the Cavaliers steal one on the road? Or will the Irish stay hot in the ACC?

TV Schedule: Saturday, January 29th, 6:00 pm EST. ACC Network

Arena: Joyce Center in South Bend, Indiana.

Virginia at Notre Dame is a matchup that features two teams above .500 in the ACC. Notre Dame has won nine of their last ten games overall and currently sits in second place in the ACC standings. Virginia is 6-4 in their last ten games and also find themselves at 6-4 in ACC play. The Cavaliers are looking to make a push to improve in the ACC standings the rest of the way.

The Cavaliers come into this matchup right in the middle of the pack at the moment but one thing Tony Bennett and Virginia have not been able to do is consistently go on a winning streak in ACC competition. Virginia does have six wins so far this season in the ACC, but they only have won back-to-back games at Syracuse and Clemson at the beginning of the new year. The rest of their games have been going back and forth with winning a game then following up with a loss in the next one. For Virginia to get back into any NCAA tournament conversations they will need to start rattling off some longer winning streaks very soon.

The Cavaliers had a disappointing loss on Saturday at NC State where frankly the Wolfpack just shot it lights out and were just too much for the Cavaliers’ offense to put up enough points. They did rebound nicely in a home win over Louisville 64-52 on Monday night to get their sixth win of the year in conference play.

Virginia and Notre Dame do not go very deep into their benches with both having a pretty set rotation of guys who see the court overall. Virginia’s top leading scorers this year in Jayden Gardner and Armaan Franklin are in their first years at Virginia coming over through the transfer portal this past offseason. Gardner the former East Carolina star is averaging 14.0 ppg, and 6.7 rebounds.

Armaan Franklin the former Indiana Hoosier comes into this contest averaging 12.2 ppg, and 2.7 rebounds. Franklin who is from Indianapolis had one of his better shooting games during his freshman year at Indiana scoring 17 points against Notre Dame.

There is also another player for Virginia who may not lead the team in scoring, but you always have to know where he is and pay attention to him on the court. That player is Kihei Clark at point guard. Clark is a crafty and pesky guard who really can distribute and make shots when needed.

Notre Dame comes into this matchup as one of the hotter teams in the ACC at the moment. After a disappointing loss to open up the ACC at Boston College in December the Irish really have turned their season around and playing a whole better brand of basketball with winning the last nine of their ten games. This is an older veteran group that features a senior class who has never experienced being invited to the NCAA tournament. If they keep playing well the rest of the way they may be on their way to changing that come March.

The Irish in the past week have picked up wins at Louisville last Saturday and a home win Wednesday night over NC State by a final score of 75-63. Notre Dame has been led this year by senior guard Dane Goodwin and freshman sensation Blake Wesley. They have others players who have contributed as well, but these have been their most consistent players up to this point in the season.

One player for the Irish who is starting to find his groove on the offensive end of the floor is Nate Laszewski. The senior forward scored 17 points and 13 rebounds against Howard a few games ago, and on Wednesday night had a team-high 18 points and 11 rebounds securing another double-double performance. If Laszewski can be a consistent scorer for Notre Dame it gives the opponents one more guy to worry about on the scouting report.

If there has been one team that Notre Dame has struggled to beat in the ACC since coming over from the Big East it is the Virginia Cavaliers. The Irish have had big wins over the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, and others but when it comes to Virginia they always just come up short in the end. Under coach Mike Brey the Irish are a disappointing 1-11 against Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers.

This game really is going to come down to which team’s strength is able to control the game and the tempo overall. Virginia has always been known for its defense and locking in on that side of the court, plus doing enough on the offensive end to come out with the victory. While Notre Dame with their shooters would much rather have the game be at a faster pace and it is a higher-scoring game. The Irish will need to have smart possessions on offense and not rush against the defensive looks that Virginia is going to throw at them throughout the game.

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With Notre Dame being undefeated at home and really feeding off the home crowd it is going to be a difficult place for Virginia to come in and get a victory. When the clock hits zero in the second half on Saturday night Mike Brey will get his second win of his career against Virginia. The matchup of Virginia at Notre Dame will be one of the more underrated and best-played games of the day.

Prediction: Notre Dame 71, Virginia 69