North Carolina vs. Notre Dame Prediction – Who’s Got Next

    North Carolina vs. Notre Dame prediction and preview. Who’s Got Next analyzes the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight matchup between the Tar Heels and Fighting Irish.

    March 26, 2016

    North Carolina vs. Notre Dame prediction and preview. Who’s Got Next analyzes the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight matchup between the Tar Heels and Fighting Irish.

    How they got here

    North Carolina beat No. 16 83-67 in the round, beat No. 9 Providence 85-66 in second round, beat No. 5 Indiana 101-86 in Sweet 16; Notre Dame beat Michigan 70-63 in first round, beat Stephen F. Austin 76-75 in second round, beat No. 7 Wisconsin 61-56 in Sweet 16

    Why North Carolina will win

    The Tar Heels put on an offensive clinic in the Sweet 16 vs. Indiana, knocking down threes all over the floor to build a first-half lead. That isn’t UNC’s game, but it is a sign of just how many ways the Tar Heels can beat teams. Their length allows them to be disruptive all over the floor defensively, and they have the skill in the paint to dominate inside. Forward Brice Johnson will have to deal with Notre Dame’s Zach Auguste inside, and the winner of that matchup will give his team a huge advantage. Johnson can score with either hand, he’s quick, and his drop-step spin move is tough for any team to contain. UNC guards Marcus Paige, Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson all can knock down shots from the perimeter, but their game is going to the rim and either finishing or finding the open man cutting to the bucket. A key for UNC will be to get a strong performance from forward Kennedy Meeks. When he is aggressive in the post either with the ball or going after rebounds, UNC raises to a different level. He has to come to play. Paige, meanwhile, can’t try to do too much on the floor or he will create a lot of live-ball turnovers.

    Why Notre Dame will win

    You can’t question the heart of the Fighting Irish. This is a team that simply keeps grinding until the final buzzer, and it has helped them pull out wins time and time again. But this isn’t just some plucky team that somehow finds a way to win. It’s a talented group that also happens to bring a lot of grit to the floor. For instance, vs Wisconsin in the Sweet 16, ND shot just 40 percent from the floor and made just 4-of-13 shots from 3-point range, but the Irish turned up the defense in the closing minutes and used an 8-0 run to close out the Badgers. Forward Zach Auguste is the key. His length makes him a power on the boards, and his athleticism and skill on both ends of the floor make him a big that has to be accounted for on every possession. The balance along the rest of the starting lineup, from the outside brilliance of forward V.J. Beachem to the athletic slashing and passing of guard Demetrius Jackson, makes Notre Dame tough to defend. This isn’t the deepest team around, and the Irish will have to avoid foul trouble to have a shot at reaching the Final Four, but ND’s defense and experience will make the Irish a difficult out.

    North Carolina vs. Notre Dame Prediction

    These two teams know each other well—they split the season series—and this is going to be one of the best games of the Elite Eight. Notre Dame will be ready to play, and this one will come down to whoever controls the glass. UNC has a bit more depth and overall quickness, and the Tar Heels will pull out a tight one.

    North Carolina vs. Notre Dame Final Score Prediction: North Carolina 83, Notre Dame 81

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