Notre Dame looks to bounce back against Boston College
Liam Coolican | Friday, February 26, 2021
After consecutive road defeats, Notre Dame will attempt to close out the road portion of their schedule on a high note with a Saturday afternoon trip to the east coast. With their NCAA tournament hopes all but gone, barring a miracle at the ACC tournament, a win over Boston College on Saturday would go a long way towards securing an NIT berth and building for next season.
The Eagles (3-13, 1-9 ACC) are in the midst of a difficult season and currently sit last in the conference. They fired their head coach, Jim Christian, and are being led by interim head coach Scott Spinelli for the remainder of the season. BC is led offensively by sophomore guard Jay Heath, who averages 14.3 points per game.
Boston College will also be coming off a two-week pause due to COVID-19 issues within the program. They last played on Feb. 13 in a loss to Syracuse. Notre Dame is one of the only teams in the conference who have not had games cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19 issues within their own team.
The Irish (9-12, 6-9 ACC) defeated the Eagles 80-70 at home on Jan. 16, to go along with a 2-1 record against the Eagles last year. In his career at Notre Dame, head coach Mike Brey has a nearly impeccable record against Boston College at 18-2, and the Irish lead the all-time series 24-11.
The two schools are historic rivals, meeting first in 1963. They were both members of the Big East conference from 1995 until BC left to join the ACC in 2005; the Irish eventually followed suit in 2013. The loss last year is the sole blemish on the Irish’s record since both teams joined the ACC; Notre Dame has won 15 of the 16 contests.
The Irish will be looking for players like junior forward Nate Lazewski and junior guard Cormac Ryan to turn things around; Lazewski scored just two points against Louisville on Tuesday and Ryan has not scored in double figures since posting a career-high 28 points against Duke on Feb. 9.
Lazsewski is tied for 9th in the nation in field goal percentage, shooting nearly 62% from the field, but he has struggled at times this season.
“He doesn’t take any bad shots,” Brey said after the Louisville game. “When athletic teams switch ball screens with him … he’s got nowhere to go.”
Notre Dame has had a balanced scoring attack recently, as five different players have led the team in scoring in their last five games. That doesn’t include junior guards Prentiss Hubb and Dane Goodwin, who are second and third on the team in points per game, respectively. However, Brey has typically played a thin, seven-man rotation this year, and if even one or two of the seven players have an off night, that can be difficult for the team offensively.
The Irish have found success against teams in the bottom half of the conference, going 5-1 so far this year, and will hope to continue that trend on Saturday. The game tips off at 2 p.m. from Chestnut Hill, Mass., and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.