#1 AP, Villanova (9-0) heads to Newark Saturday for a showdown with #23 Notre Dame (9-0) in a noon game being televised on CBS (the game can also be followed on 610 (WTEL AM) or VUSports Live Chat).
The Cats look to tie the Villanova program record for most consecutive wins (16) - which was set from 25 January through 21 March of 2015. The Irish have a rich history of knocking off #1 ranked teams. Notre Dame has beaten the AP #1 ranked team 8 times.
Notre Dame has a potent offense that in many ways is similar to the ‘Nova offense. Both teams know what a good shot is and how to create them. The Irish cut and pass a lot without turning the ball over (lowest turnover % in the country), are the best FT shooting team in the country, and shoot 41.3% from three-point range.
Statistically, Notre Dame is playing more effective defensively than in any of the past three seasons. So far this season, Mike Brey’s team has taken care of business against lesser competition and has three quality wins - 89-83 over Colorado and 70-66 over Northwestern, both on a neutral court, and a 92-78 home win over Iowa.
Kenpom predicts a 76-69 win for Villanova with a 74% chance of the Cats emerging victorious.
From a Four Factors perspective, here is how the teams compare:
what stands out:
- both teams have very high effective FG percentages
- both teams have been taking care of the ball on offense
- neither team gets to the FT line frequently
- neither team allows the opposition to get to the FT line frequently
- Though ND is a better offensive rebounding team, the Cats have been the better defensive rebounding team
other stats of interest:
- Notre Dame is shooting 41.3% from three (13th nationally)
- Villanova is shooting 40.6% from three (21st nationally)
- The Irish are shooting 85.9% from the FT line (1st nationally)
The Irish lost their two leading scorers from last season in Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste but 3 starters and 6 rotation players return on a team with an average “age” of 1.99 years (compared to 1.95 for Villanova). The Irish advanced to the Elite Eight each of the last two years.
Notre Dame player capsules:
V.J. Beachem (6-8, 201, Sr., 31.6 MPG, 16.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 36.2 3PFG, 116.7 ORtg.) Beachem is a very good outside shooter that must be guarded beyond the arc. He prefers the three-ball to the two-ball, despite his 6-8 frame. Beachem gets on the glass. 83.3% FT shooter.
Bonzie Colson (6-5, 225, Jr., 29.6 MPG, 17.1 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 135.7 ORtg.) Great rebounder and a highly efficient scorer from two-point range. Rugged. Has scored in double-figures in every game this season and is riding a streak of six straight double-doubles. 91.7% from the FT line with a lot of trips. 42.1% from three-point land.
Martinas Geben (6-10, 255, Jr., 14.9 MPG. 3.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 61.9% FG, 127.5 ORtg) Focused on screening, defending and rebounding. Doesn’t drift outside of his comfort zone on offense. Only Colson is more effective off the glass for the Irish.
Steve Vasturia (6-6, 212, Sr., 30.1 MPG, 16.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.4 SPG, 46.2% 3PFG, 135.8 ORtg.) Lockdown defender, heady, Philly guard. Shooting 96.8% from the FT line. Very efficient scorer.
Matt Farrell (6-1, 178, Jr., 29.0 MPG, 12.4 PPG, 5.4 APG, 1.3 SPG, 35% 3PFG, 122.6 ORtg.) Starts at the point and has done a nice job running the show for Coach Brey. A perfect 24-24 from the FT line so far. He is selective with his own shots while focusing on distributing the ball. Played some great bench minutes against Wisconsin and UNC in the NCAA Tournament last season.
Rex Pflueger (6-6, 202, So., 20.1 MPG, 6.1 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.1 APG, 50% 3PFG, 149.9 ORtg.) Hasn’t turned the ball over all year. Has an insane ORtg - in large part because he is ultra-selective with his shots and, as noted, not giving the ball away. Very good defender.
Matt Ryan (6-7, 228, So., 13.3 MPG, 7.7 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 47.6% 3PFG, 121.7 ORtg.) Another shooter. Can fill it up in spurts off the pine.
Temple Gibbs (6-3, 200, Fr., 14.7 MPG, 5.3 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.7 TPG, 47.1% 3PFG, 129.2 ORtg,) The frosh guard has been solid with the rock during his back-up PG minutes. Playing smart basketball, shooting the ball at a high percentage.