By Derek DeBurger

Louisville will once again find itself in a battle for second-to-last place when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish come to town.

Notre Dame is a very bad team slogging through a rebuild with first-year head coach Micah Shrewsberry, who is a fantastic coach preaching an odd mix of aggression on defense and a slower pace on offense. The talent on the court is nowhere close to where it should be to compete in a major power conference, but the Irish fight hard every game.

The combination of a molasses-like pace and comparatively less-than-talent results in a woeful offense in nearly every category you could think of. Notre Dame ranks 298th on KenPom in offensive efficiency. This is a team that scores 61.9 points per game, which ranks 442nd in the country…out of 362 teams.

It’s a scheme that comes and goes with guard Markus Burton. Burton scores 16.2 points per game, nets 4.2 assists per game, and is used on 33% of offensive possessions which is the seventh-highest rate in the country. If the Cards can slow down Burton the rest of the Irish should grind to a halt, but Louisville has shown no ability to do so at this point in the season.

The defense for Notre Dame is a completely different story. The Irish rank 40th in defensive efficiency on KenPom, holding opponents to the 27th-lowest mark in the country at 65.3 points per game. While the Irish press at a high rate, they don’t force a lot of turnovers, mainly opting to stay in front of the shooter. In turn, Notre Dame holds opponents to a low field goal percentage of 41.6%. While the lack of designed aggression and the desire to speed up opponents lends toward the Cards’ strengths, they have done quite poorly against teams who are very competent defensively.

The dichotomy between the coaching prowess and talent levels of these two teams is interesting and should make for an outcome that could go either way.

It may be a tossup, but let’s hope the Cards can get the win and move out of last place in the ACC.