After an eight-day hiatus, Notre Dame returns to the court Sunday to take on Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets come into Sunday’s matchup squarely on the bubble. Georgia Tech notched a huge win over Syracuse last Sunday, but fell to N.C. State in the following game.
First-year coach Josh Pastner has exceeded all expectations in Atlanta. Picked to finish near the bottom of the ACC, Georgia Tech has tallied impressive resume wins over ND, Florida State, and North Carolina and the fact that they are even in the NCAA Tournament conversation is a win.
Sunday will mark the 16th meeting between the two schools and Georgia Tech leads the all-time series 9-6.
The Irish have plenty of motivation of Sunday’s contest. In their previous matchup, ND struggled on the road, but still had the ball in the closing seconds with a chance to win. Matt Farrell’s floater was off the mark and GT was able to grab the rebound and race down the floor to convert a lay-up at the buzzer to clinch the victory.
The loss was ND’s second in a row and the Irish would go on to lose two more.
Coach Mike Brey mentioned in his Thursday press conference that he wasn’t sure if they deserved to win that game at Georgia Tech, but he said that postgame locker room was the most pisses he’s seen the team all year.
That bodes well for Sunday.
If this schedule break had come in January, rust and sluggishness would be a concern, but not with March right around the corner. ND has three important regular season games remaining, a 3-0 mark could land them the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament…motivation is not lacking.
To a man, the Irish welcomed the eight-day break. The big four had logged a lot of minutes in a short period of time and it was starting to catch up with them.
Farrell and Steve Vasturia are the two players who will benefit most from this late bye week. Both players expend a ton of energy on both ends of the floor and, while neither would use this as an excuse, both were seeing fatigue effect their games.
Losses from Duke and Louisville this week have improved ND’s chances at earning the coveted double bye.
The Irish are a different team than the one that lost to Georgia Tech in January.
Martin Geben received a lot of playing time in the first matchup – that won’t be the case this time around. The five-out concept was not put into play in the first matchup and Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson indicated that that change will be a difference maker this time around.
The most threatening aspect of Georgia Tech is that they are a desperate team and this time of year, desperate teams are dangerous teams.
The Yellow Jackets understand that they are playing for their postseason lives from here on out and the Irish should expect their best effort.
If the Irish allow GT to hang around, they could steal this game, but with the home atmosphere, a well-rested and focused Notre Dame team should take care of the Yellow Jackets