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Monday, May 20, 2024
The Observer

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Notre Dame men’s basketball hosts Boston College in key rematch

In an exciting conference matchup, Micah Shrewserry’s Irish are set to clash with the Boston College Eagles on Saturday at Purcell Pavilion. Coming off a tough loss against Miami, the Irish are again looking to secure their second home conference win. Boston College currently ranks 12th in the ACC and is one of a small handful of teams in a similar position to Notre Dame.

The teams saw each other last week in Chestnut Hill. The Eagles pulled away in the last two minutes after an impressive first half from Markus Burton. 

The key to victory for Notre Dame may lie in their ability to control the paint and dominate the boards. On Wednesday night, Coach Shrewsberry utilized a small-ball lineup, and in the second half, only a handful of players saw the floor: freshman guard Markus Burton, junior guard J.R. Konieczny, junior guard Julian Roper, freshman guard Braeden Shrewsberry, sophomore forward Tae Davis and freshman guard Logan Imes.

On Saturday, if freshman forward Carey Booth and sophomore forward Kebba Njie provide strong frontcourt presence, Notre Dame can capitalize on second-chance opportunities and limit Boston College’s chances at offensive rebounds. In Wednesday’s loss against Miami, Njie and Booth often lost their man on defense, resulting in several wide open put-ins for the Hurricanes’ Norchad Omier, who had 20 first-half points.

Notre Dame can expect Boston College to push the tempo, utilizing the speed of their backcourt. Quick transitions from defense to offense and exploiting open lanes for drives to the basket could be integral to the Eagles’ game plan. Notre Dame has pushed the tempo itself more in recent games. Although when the Irish play small, Burton and Shrewsberry can’t always stop a post from scoring at the rim.

Burton continues to present both blessings and curses. He leads the Irish in scoring at 16.3 points per game, and his 40.6% field goal percentage is adequate, if not impressive, for a first year small guard. However, Burton is an inconsistent ball handler who has played sloppy recently. Of his eight turnovers against Miami, at least four were related to ineffective ball handling.

After a couple of wins early in ACC play, the Irish have cooled down, losing their last three. Boston College has lost its two games since playing Notre Dame. Its only other ACC win came against Georgia Tech, who the Irish also beat.

Off the court, Notre Dame will highlight Coaches Versus Cancer initiative. Saturday’s matchup tips off at noon on ESPNU.

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