Virginia Cavaliers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick & Prediction JANUARY 31st 2024

As bracketologists assess the credentials of NCAA Tournament candidates, what are they to make of Virginia?

While the record of the Cavaliers (15-5, 6-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) suggests that they are on their way to making the tournament, their five losses are jarring, each coming by at least 16 points.

The Cavaliers have a chance to avenge the worst blemish on their resume when they host Notre Dame (7-13, 2-7) on Wednesday in Charlottesville, Va.

A month ago, the Cavaliers were manhandled by the Irish, 76-54, as their vaunted defense surrendered 51 percent shooting from the floor and 47.8 percent from beyond the arc, both season highs for a Virginia opponent.

Led by Carey Booth (17 points, nine rebounds) and J.R. Konieczny (17 points, eight rebounds) Notre Dame bolted to a 13-0 lead and Virginia never mounted a challenge.

Since then, the fortunes of the teams have diverged. While the Cavaliers have won four straight games, the Irish have lost their last four.

Virginia is coming off a 69-52 romp at Louisville as Ryan Dunn hit 8 of 10 shots, delivering a career-high 19 points to go along with his 11 rebounds.

Reece Beekman produced nine points, nine assists and five steals, leading a Cavaliers defense that limited Louisville to 35.7 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers.

“Reece was setting the table. Our defense turned into some offense, too,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.

During Notre Dame’s four-game skid, two of the losses were to Boston College, including a 61-58 defeat at home on Saturday.

The Irish trailed for the final 13 minutes, but Braeden Shrewsberry, who scored all 14 of his points in the second half, and Konieczny, who had 15 points and eight rebounds, helped keep it close.

Five of Notre Dame’s last six losses have come by single-digit margins.

“It’s there. It’s right there for you. If we were getting blown out every game, then that would be a problem, getting focused,” Notre Dame coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “But it’s like if I change one to two things, we’re probably winning. There is hope. You can see progress.”

–Field Level Media

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