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Wake Forest Basketball: Key Matchup vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Deacs are up against one of the best shooters in college basketball

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Michigan State Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

After beating the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday, the Deacs have a chance to start their first ACC winning streak of the season on Tuesday, when they face off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-9, 3-6). Like Wake Forest, the Irish have been very dependent on 3-point shooting this season; Notre Dame has made 10 or more 3-pointers in 7 of their 15 games this season, and the team is shooting 38% from downtown, good for 2nd best in the ACC and the 28th best 3-point shooting team in the nation. One reason for that high percentage is junior forward Nate Laszewski, who has seemingly been unable to miss this season.

Laszewski is having an incredible junior year for the Irish. He is the 10th best scorer in the ACC at 15.3 points per game and top 3 for field goal percentage. For a guy who has taken over 40% of his shots from beyond the arc this season, 64% shooting from the floor is absurd. His 3-point percentage is the best in the ACC and 12th in the nation among qualified shooters. If you want me to throw in some advanced stats, Laszewski has the highest effective field goal percentage of any player in the entire country at 75%, making him the most efficient shooter in division I basketball this season.

Laszewski is used much like Wake Forest’s Ismael Massoud, with many of his shots coming off of catch and shoots 3-pointers on kick outs or pick and pops with Prentiss Hubb, who is the 2nd best distributor in the ACC with 5.4 assists per game. Laszewski has scored in double figures in all but 2 of Notre Dame’s 15 games this season and made at least 1 3-pointer in all but 3. At 6-10, he presents a matchup problem for many teams because he spends so much time on the perimeter, but can still take smaller defenders inside and score on them in the paint.

For the Deacs to win this game, they will have to limit the number of 3-pointers the Irish get. Notre Dame is 2-6 this season when making fewer than 10 3-pointers, and those 2 wins are Bellarmine and Kentucky—so not exactly the toughest of opponents. Obviously with shooters like Laszewski, that is easier said than done, but if the Deacs can run the Irish off of the 3-point line and force them into taking 2-point jumpers (and not turn the ball over a million times, of course), I like our chances to leave South Bend with a W.