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Irish Set to Face Cardinals in ACC Showdown

Written by Jhett Garrett Writer Twitter/X: @JhettGarrett

Photo by The Irish Tribune

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish travel to Louisville this coming Wednesday for a matchup with the Cardinals (8-18, 3-12 in the ACC). The Irish currently hold a two-game win streak, with wins against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, both of which were home games.

While both programs are in less-than-desirable positions at this point in the season, both sides have already made significant improvements in comparison to last season. With the Irish’s last win over Georgia Tech, they have already surpassed their ACC win total from a season ago with four, while the Cardinals have already doubled their overall win total from a year ago. Both sides are looking to further build on these improvements as we make our way into March.

Notre Dame is looking to snap their four-game losing streak on the road, with their last road win coming on January 9th against Georgia Tech. It is their lone road ACC win since they knocked off Clemson back in February of 2022, however, they have a massive opportunity to pick up yet another.

On the other hand, Louisville is riding a two-game losing streak falling to Boston College and Pittsburgh, both on the road. However, the Cardinals have been victorious in their previous two home games, knocking off Georgia Tech and Florida State.

The Cardinals are led by sophomore guard Mike James, who is averaging 13.5 points per game on 40.3% shooting. He has scored in double figures in each of the last five games for Louisville, which is largely in part to James’ ability to get to the free-throw line. In his last five games, James has shot 40 free throws and knocked down 31 of those, which has him at a 78% clip in that span. It is going to be vital for the Notre Dame guards to keep James on the perimeter and make him shoot from deep.

Markus Burton seems like the right man for the job when it comes to defending James, as he is coming off a five-steal game against Georgia Tech last Wednesday, giving him 11 steals in the last two games. He has had two or more steals in 12 games this season and is averaging two per game. Couple that with 34 points and 13 assists during the current two-game winning streak, while only turning the ball over a combined three times in that same span, and Burton is beginning to blossom into an incredible asset for Notre Dame.

Braden Shrewsberry is another player to watch for the Irish, as he tries to get back on track after an impressive month of January. He has been slumping in the last five games for the Irish, as he is averaging 10.4 points per game on 25% shooting in that span. This includes a three-point performance against Georgia Tech in their latest game, where Shrewsberry shot 1-11 from the field, and 1-8 from three. While cold streaks like this are expected from a freshman, it will certainly favor the Irish if he can get back on track against the Cardinals.

This game will come down to staying out of foul trouble if you’re Notre Dame. Louisville averages 17.6 free throws made per game based on their high-isolation offense. They rank 321st overall in assists per game (11.1), 224th overall in field goal percentage (43.9%), and 197th in points per game (73.4). The Notre Dame defense has been the backbone of this rebuilding team this season, and it can be expected that it will once again be their go-to on the road.

Tipoff will be at 7:00 p.m. EST, and will be streamed live on ESPNU.


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