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ACC Tournament 2017: Notre Dame Fighting Irish Preview

The Fighting Irish finished near the top of the ACC and have a roster that can make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

For the next several days, the Tar Heel Blog staff will be previewing each ACC team heading into the ACC Tournament. We’ll be highlighting how the season has gone for each team, and discussing the state of each school heading into the postseason.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Overall Record: 23-8

Conference record: 12-6

Biggest wins: Louisville (77-70), Florida State (84-72)

Worst losses: Georgia Tech (62-60)

Key players: Bonzie Colson, V.J. Beachem, Matt Farrell, Steve Vasturia

Chance of making NCAA Tournament: The Irish won’t need any luck to make it into the Big Dance, they are in.

Mike Brey and the Fighting Irish were quietly one of the best teams in the ACC this season, and unassumingly, Notre Dame was almost one game away from being Co-ACC Regular Season Champions with North Carolina. Maybe they snuck up on everybody because we still tend to forget that this team is even a part of the conference, being all the way out in Indiana and not being a full ACC member.

The Irish finished the season with a regular season record of 23-8 and were 12-6 in the ACC, which was good enough to be tied for second place in the conference (technically, third when you factor in all of the tiebreakers). Notre Dame will earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row, and all that is left to be determined is what seed the Irish will receive on Selection Sunday.

Notre Dame didn’t suffer any bad losses in the regular season, as they only lost to teams that they were probably not favored to win anyways. Losing on the road at Georgia Tech was probably their worst loss of the season, but as any Tar Heel fan would tell you it is hard to win on the road in the ACC (even against Georgia Tech). The Irish did have a tough stretch in the middle of their season losing four games in a row, including one of those being to North Carolina. However, they rebounded to win six out of the next seven games, including a win against #14 Florida State.

Much of Notre Dame’s success can be attributed to first-team All-ACC player, Bonzie Colson. Colson was the conference leader in rebounds per game (10.4), while leading his team with 17.0 points per game. He has been a productive contributor on the team in years past, however, he had to step into the lead scoring role this season with the departures of Zach Auguste and Demetrius Jackson.

Colson is surrounded with some very good complimentary players who have helped the Fighting Irish to have a successful season. One of those players who has stepped up to have a very good season is point guard, Matt Farrell. Farrell came in averaging only 2.6 points a game last season but really picked up his scoring production this year. He averages 14.2 points per game and is one of the leaders on the team in 3-point field goal percentage (42.5%).

Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem, seniors who have seemingly been around forever, rounded out the “core four” for Notre Dame. Along with Farrell, Vasturia and Beachem were all named to the All-ACC Honorable Mention team. Vasturia is averaging 13.5 points per game in his senior season, while Beachem has added 15.4 points per game and has led the team in number of three-pointers made on the season.

The Irish received a double-bye in the ACC Tournament and will wait to play the winner of Virginia vs. Georgia Tech/Pitt. Coach Brey will need to rely on his top four players to try and win another ACC Tournament, like he did in 2015. He will have players who have been there before and had success in this tournament, so look for Notre Dame to quietly make another deep run in Brooklyn this weekend.