(3) Notre Dame v. (14) Northeastern
Time: 12:15 PM ET
Spread: ND -12.5
Betting odds c/o Bovada
Notre Dame finished the regular season 29-5 with a 14-4 mark in the ACC. It drew the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region and a second round matchup with No. 14 Northeastern. Early NCAA basketball live odds showed the Fighting Irish as 12.5 point favorites with the over/under set at 141 for the game which will air on CBS.
Notre Dame closed its season in impressive fashion, notching a 90-82 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels in the ACC Championship game. The Irish went on a late run, outscoring UNC 26-3 in the second half spurt as Jerian Grant came through with a big 24-point game for the Irish. All five starters scored in double-figures and the Irish also got 20 points from Pat Connaughton on 4 of 5 three-point shooting, as the Irish hit 10 of 20 from distance in the game and got to the line 32 times to knock down 28. Those two features alone are going to make Notre Dame very tough to contend with, because it can rely on easy points from the stripe and consistent three-point shooting (yet without being necessarily a “live and die by the three” kind of team).
The Irish are deadly accurate from distance, nonetheless, knocking down 39 percent as a team. Connaughton alone hits 43.6 percent , while ranking second on the team in scoring with 12.8 points per game. Grant leads the way with 16.8 points per game, and he’s also dishing out an outstanding 6.6 assists per contest. The 6’5” senior guard had struggled somewhat before the UNC contest, having scored 13 points or less in three of his previous four games prior to the outing. Not only did he tally 24 points in the win over North Carolina, but he also dropped 10 dimes while committing just two turnovers. On the season, he’s good for a 3.3:1 assist/turnover ratio, and that well composed play should definitely bode well for the Irish. He’s experienced, steady and a good scorer—all basically three traits that are prerequisites from a floor general if a team is to advance deep in March.
Northeastern finished 23-11 on the year with a 12-6 mark in the Colonial conference. The Huskies are an efficient, if unimpressive team. It ranked 12th in the NCAA in field goal percentage (48.6), but still managed just 68.6 points per game this season. The Huskies are led by Scott Eatherton and David Walker, who combine to average 28 points per game, while Eatherton also leads the team in rebounding with 6.4 per contest. But the Huskies are a poor team on the glass, getting just 33 rebounds per game and that’s going to be a problem if the team can’t collect the few threes that the Irish do misfire.
Eatherton, a 6’8” senior forward, finished the CAA tournament strong, scoring 33 points and pulling down 10 boards total over the final two contests, victories over UNC-Wilmington and William & Mary. The Huskies hail from one of the weakest conferences in D-1 basketball, so there’s not much sense in reading into its conference championship as much more than a given entitlement to land in this tournament.
The Irish may be double-digit favorites, but it seems the 12.5 point spread is conservative still facing a team in Northeastern that hasn’t faced many quality opponents. It’s not that it can be written off necessarily, however, given that the Huskies did defeat Florida State on Nov 18, and well, no other quality opponents to speak of whatsoever. So, maybe just go ahead and write the team off. There won’t be many picking this as a 14 over 3 upset, to say the least.