Previewing Notre Dame

No. 5 seed North Carolina and No. 3 seed Notre Dame will square off for the ACC Tournament title on Saturday night. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum and will be televised by ESPN and the ACC Network.

North Carolina (24-10, 11-7) vs. Notre Dame (28-5, 14-4)
Greensboro, N.C. - Greensboro Coliseum
Saturday, 8:30 p.m.
ESPN (Sean McDonough, Shane Battier); ACCN (Tim Brant, Mike Gminski)

"One of the things I used to say all the time when we were in the Big East, let's get to Saturday. We went to four straight semifinals before we left the league for the ACC, but we could never get to Saturday. Darn if we're not playing for it tomorrow night, and I've never been more confident of a group." -- Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey

"If you look at the games in this tournament, the teams getting off to great starts are winning, and that other team is playing catch up the whole game, and can't quite get over the hump. We've gotten off to good starts, two of them, and we're going to need to do that tomorrow night." -- Brey


Season to Date: No. 3 seed Notre Dame enters Saturday's contest with a 28-5 (14-4 ACC) record. Three of the Irish's four ACC losses came on the road in tough venues (Virginia, Pittsburgh and Duke) and the other was a 65-60 loss to Syracuse on Feb. 24. Notre Dame's weak nonconference schedule (86th SOS), however, could hurt its seeding on Selection Sunday.

ACC Tournament Results: The FIghting Irish built double-digit leads in both of its tournament wins before allowing their opponents to make a late rally. Notre Dame lead Miami by 20 only to watch the Hurricanes take a 51-49 lead with 6:30 to play. Mike Brey's squad pulled away late to claim the 70-63 quarterfinal victory. On Friday, the Irish led Duke by 17 in the second half before the Blue Devils pulled to within four points with 3:13 to play. Notre Dame once again held on for a 74-64 win.

Grant in Charge: Jerian Grant earned first-team All-ACC honors following a dominant senior season in which he led Notre Dame in scoring and assists. According to Notre Dame's SID, Grant is the only player in the country averaging at least 16.0 points and 6.0 assists per game and shooting 48.0 percent of better from the field.

Lethal on Offense: Notre Dame has made its money on the offensive end of the floor. The Fighting Irish rank second in effective field goal percentage (58.4) and turnover percentage (14.3) and fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency (121.0), according to Notre Dame led the ACC in field goal percentage (50.9) and 3-point field goal percentage (38.9).

Stretch 4: Pat Connaughton is the most versatile cog in Notre Dame's starting lineup. The 6-foot-5, 218-pound senior leads the Irish in rebounding (7.5) while ranking second in the ACC (and 20th nationally) in 3-point field goal percentage (42.6). His ability to man the 4-spot has made Notre Dame tough to guard defensively and his toughness has added an element of attitude to Brey's squad.

Colson Emerging: Freshman forward Bonzie Colson splashed on the scene during Zach Auguste's absence earlier in the conference season and has led the Irish in scoring in five of the last seven games. He scored 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting and grabbed five rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench in Friday's win over Duke.

Last Meeting: The Fighting Irish escaped Chapel Hill with a 71-70 win over the Tar Heels on Jan. 5, 2015. UNC rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to take a 70-69 lead with 2:07 to play, but missed its last eight shots, including a Marcus Paige 3-point attempt from the left wing in the final seconds. Paige led UNC with 15 points and Auguste paced Notre Dame with 18.

Series History: UNC leads the all-time series with Notre Dame, 18-5. The Tar Heels have won seven of the last nine meetings.

Projected Starters:
11 Demetrius Jackson (6-1, 198, So.) - 12.6 ppg, 2.9 apg
22 Jerian Grant (6-5, 204, Sr.) - 16.6 ppg, 6.5 apg
32 Steve Vasturia (6-5, 211, So.) - 9.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg
24 Pat Connaughton (6-5, 218, Sr.) - 12.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg
30 Zach Auguste (6-10, 240, Jr.) - 12.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg

Top Reserves:
35 Bonzie Colson (6-5, 226, Fr.) - 6.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg
3 V.J. Beacham (6-8, 200, So.) - 6.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg
1 Austin Torres (6-7, 228, So.) - 2.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg

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(Photo by USA Today Sports)

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