Irish prepare for ACC Tournament after upsetting FSU
Madelyn Stout | Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Following a stunning win over the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, the Notre Dame men’s basketball team is on the road Tuesday night in Greensboro to face off against 14-seeded Wake Forest in the first round of the ACC Tournament. The Irish (10-14, 7-11 ACC) toppled the No. 11 Seminoles at Purcell Pavilion on Sunday, seating themselves as the 11th seed right before the ACC tournament kicks off this week.
In terms of previous ACC Tournament play at the Greensboro Coliseum, the Irish are 4-1 with a four-game winning streak — three wins en route to their 2015 ACC Championship and a win last year before the tournament was cancelled. Moreover, history is repeating itself as Notre Dame’s first ever ACC tournament game was in 2014 against Wake Forest.
“It becomes a little bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy that you know you’ve had some success before,” head coach Mike Brey said. “Hopefully, we can recapture a little bit of that juice. I’m certainly selling that, and Saturday’s performance helps me sell it better because there’s a little bit of an uptick after a big downtick.”
The first team the Irish face in the tournament are the Demon Deacons — who they dominated Feb. 2 at Purcell Pavilion in a 79-58 victory. Wake Forest’s team is rounding up their first season under head coach Steve Forbes. The Demon Deacons ended the regular season with a 6-15 record and went 3-15 in the ACC.
Going into the game, the Irish have junior point guard Prentiss Hubb as a leading scorer, with 14.7 points per game. Moreover, Hubb was recently named to the All-ACC Third Team. After having 10 points and 10 assists in the prior game against Wake Forest, Hubb will help lead the team into the Tuesday matchup.
Another Irish player to keep an eye on is graduate student forward Juwan Durham. In the Feb. 2 game against the Demon Deacons, Durham led the team with 18 points. Moreover, Durham also had nine rebounds, four blocks and two assists in the regular season game, and in the Senior Day game against the Seminoles on Saturday, Durham added nine points and nine rebounds. Junior guards Cormac Ryan and Trey Wertz are also players to watch out for in the coming game.
“I think Trey Wertz, I’m excited for him,” Brey said. “He wasn’t supposed to be eligible and he’s starting in his home state in the ACC tournament. He’s really helped us handle the ball and when you have him, Cormac and Prentiss on the up on the floor together, I mean those are three guys that can really handle the ball. It certainly helps us.”
Hubb and Wertz helped carry the momentum into the second half of the Feb 2 game against the Demon Deacons with three 3-pointers. Moreover, in the Saturday game against the Seminoles, Hubb scored 22 points and had five assists in addition to four rebounds. Graduate student forward Nikola Djogo is another leader for the Irish, hitting a three-pointer early on in the game against FSU and scoring 11 points total.
The game tips off Tuesday at 7 p.m. on the ACC Network. If the Irish beat Wake Forest again this year, then they will face off once more against six-seeded North Carolina and move up in the tournament Wednesday night at 9 p.m on the ACC Network.