A statistical view of UNC's match-up with Notre Dame
|North Carolina||Notre Dame|
|Points per game||75.9||74.4|
|Points per possession||1.07||1.12|
|Field Goal %||45.6%||45.9%|
|Offensive Reb Rate||38.3%||33.2%|
|Defensive Reb Rate||69.0%||72.5%|
|KenPom win probability||UNC 57%|
At first blush, Notre Dame's offensive numbers would seem to indicate this might be a bad match-up for UNC. The Irish have a decent offense with a points per possession of 1.12. Notre Dame also prefers a slower pace and does a good job covering the defensive glass. The issue with the overall numbers is it includes 12 games with Jerian Grant in the lineup, a player who was hitting 40% of his three. Grant left the team just before Christmas due to academic issues leaving Notre Dame without a player that had scored 20+ points in six of the Irish's first twelve games. Since Grant's departure, Notre Dame has largely been in ACC play save a late December game against Canisius. The Irish's conference only numbers aren't nearly as sparkling with an offensive efficiency of 105.5 and a defensive efficiency of 111.6. Of course UNC is in the same boat with a uptick for both of those numbers in ACC play.
The main issue for UNC will be the pace of play. At this stage, it is pretty well established that best solution for UNC's offensive inconsistency is to ensure there are as many possessions as possible. If that happens plus UNC actually hits the copious free throws they get by being aggressive. That doesn't mean UNC can't win a slower paced game however the 10-3 mark in games of 70+ possessions versus going 4-4 in games under 70 possessions would suggest the higher tempo is a better deal. In fact the quality of UNC's wins would back that up. Against teams in the KenPom top 100 UNC is 6-1 when the games reach 70 possessions and 1-3 if the game is slower than that standard. KenPom's current prediction has UNC winning by one in a game slated to go 69 possessions. For UNC it is imperative they speed the game up.
Another area worth noting is free throw rate. Notre Dame doesn't send teams to the line nor do they spend much time at the line. In all games the Irish are near the bottom of Division I in free throw rate, a number that has dropped to 25% in ACC play. On the defensive end, opposing teams FT rate went up 5% since ACC play started which basically means Notre Dame is going to the free throw less while ACC opponents are going more and hitting 73.8% of them. If UNC can do what they have done in terms of getting to the line plus actually hit the free throws like they did versus Georgia Tech and NC State, it should make a huge different.