On Wednesday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (22-10) will face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (18-13) for a postseason berth in the NCAA Tournament. These two teams are in the First Four, and the victor of this game will face #6 seed Alabama in the NCAA Tournament first round. The game will begin at 9:10 p.m. EST at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio, and the victor of this game will be the West Region’s 11th seed.
Notre Dame enters this game after losing 87-80 to Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament, while
Rutgers is coming off an 84-74 loss to Iowa in the BIG TEN Tournament. This should be a very close game, so let’s see how these two stack up.
Notre Dame Betting Preview: Fighting Irish Look for 37th Trip to the Postseason
This season has been a roller coaster for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Irish have been very inconsistent, winning several games they shouldn’t have and also losing a few they shouldn’t have. They are averaging 72.3 points per game and shooting 46% from the field on the offensive end. This is the nation’s 72nd greatest shooting percentage, and they have the 30th most efficient offense, according to the KenPom rankings. They have the ability to score on anyone and from any point on the floor, and I expect Notre Dame to press the ball inside before kicking it out for three points. They’re terrific shooting the three-ball as they have hit 38 percent from beyond the arc, which is good for the 16th best in the country.
Notre Dame has the 86th most efficient defense in the country on the defensive end, and they only allow 66.2 points per contest and force their opponents to shoot 41.2 percent from the field. They’ll put pressure on the Scarlet Knights as soon as the ball is passed in, and their big guys will try to change shots near the rim as they are averaging 5.1 thefts and 1.9 blocks per game. They must generate more turnovers and allow their defense to convert to offense on the opposite end. Even if they don’t get a hand on the ball, their big guys do an excellent job of altering shots near the rim.
The winner of this game will be the team that performs better on defense. Notre Dame also has a 34.1 rebounding average per game. If they want to prevent Rutgers from scoring second or third chance points, they’ll have to keep the ball and secure the glass.
Rutgers Betting Preview: Rutgers Need Defense to Fend Off Notre Dame
This season, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights have been just an average offensive team; they are averaging 67.7 points per possession and shooting 44.2 percent from the field. This is the country’s 177th greatest total shooting percentage with the 108th most efficient offense, according to KenPom. They can score from any spot on the court, but they are at their finest when they are in the paint averaging 15 assists per game as a team, demonstrating excellent ball sharing. Because they can’t locate open shots unless they’re continuously moving and looking for the open man, this opens up their entire offense. Rutgers is shooting 33.8 percent from outside the arc, which is good for the 184th best in the country.
However, the Scarlet Knights are one of the best defensive teams in the country on the defensive end of the court. They only allow 65.2 points per game and force their opponents to shoot 41.2 percent from the field. This is the 62nd best allowed shooting percentage in the country. When the shot goes up, all five of their players on the court will apply pressure and fight it. They have the 44th most efficient defense, according to KenPom, and they can stop anyone if they remain concentrated and locked in. They are also quite active on the defensive end of the court, with 7.2 steals and 3.9 blocks per game, with their guards doing an excellent job of squeezing the ball free and forcing turnovers, allowing them to score.
This scrappy team excels at squeezing the ball loose and creating turnovers, allowing them to convert these steals into easy fast-break points the other way. Even if they don’t get a hand on the ball, their big men will hold their position and make it difficult for each shot in the paint. In addition, they are averaging 35.4 rebounds per game. They must maintain possession of the ball to prevent the Fighting Irish from gaining extra opportunities at key moments.
Betting Odds and Lines
MyBookie has the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as the -1 point home favorite, while the total number of points is at 131.5 in the latest odds.
Free Betting Pick
Defense is crucial in playoff situations, and it should be important in this projected tight matchup. Rutgers has the defensive advantage in this game as they have the 44th most efficient defense in the country. Despite this, Rutgers is a streaky club that has shown this season that it can compete with the best, but they are just 2-7-1 ATS in non-conference games.
On the other hand, the Fighting Irish rank 29th in offensive efficiency. Despite having one of the slower tempos in the ACC, Notre Dame is able to put up points at a high rate, thanks in part to its outside shooting prowess. Notre Dame also plays a controlled brand of basketball, with only 10.3 turnovers per game and a 76 percent free-throw shooting percentage: two factors that matter a lot in the chaos of March. For that reason, I’m backing Notre Dame in this one.