Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Virginia Cavaliers Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 30th 2023

Notre Dame’s 20-point loss at home to The Citadel on Dec. 19 was so traumatic for the Fighting Irish that they set out to tear down their “foundation” and build it back up from “day one,” first-year coach Micah Shrewsberry said.

A win three days later over Marist was a small step in the right direction. Now, after a seven-day layoff, Notre Dame (5-7, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) will get a better sense of the value of its rebuild when it hosts Virginia (10-2, 1-0) in South Bend, Ind.

Adding to the embarrassment of their soul-searching 65-45 loss to The Citadel was the fact that the Fighting Irish were done in by former Notre Dame walk-on Elijah Morgan, who scored 19 points.

While Morgan made 5 of 7 shots from beyond the arc, the Fighting Irish missed their last 19 attempts from deep.

After Markus Burton tallied 21 points and four steals in a 60-56 win over Marist on Dec. 22, Shrewsberry credited the Citadel wake-up call.

“We sat in there as coaches for a long time after the game and we said at some point in time, way down the line, we’re going to remember this date — December the 19th, 2023 — because it changed how we approached everything,” Shrewsberry said.

Notre Dame has been plagued by 26.7 percent shooting from 3-point range, the worst among power conference schools.

Virginia was ranked last week before falling at then-No. 23 Memphis, 77-54. The deliberate Cavaliers were no match for the defensive pressure and tempo brought by the Tigers.

Virginia’s impressive record has another lopsided blemish, a 65-41 loss to Wisconsin in the Fort Myers Tip-Off in November.

Virginia is coming off a 79-44 victory Wednesday over Morgan State. Reece Beekman paced the Cavaliers with 17 points and seven assists.

With 22 assists and five turnovers, Virginia took care of the ball better than against Memphis (14 assists, 18 turnovers), but Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett rejected the idea that it was an improvement.

“Just a different game,” Bennett said. “Memphis was switching everything, pressing, getting to every guy where you had to put it on the floor and make plays. You couldn’t really compare the defenses.”

–Field Level Media

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