Notre Dame’s daunting schedule — fourth-toughest, according to KenPom — has continued to do coach Mike Brey and company no favors to this point of the season.
At 3-8, 0-5, the Fighting Irish have lost four straight and sit at the bottom of the ACC standings.
However, a chance to break that streak and pick up a much-needed conference victory will be presented to Notre Dame on Saturday at Purcell Pavilion.
Boston College (3-9, 1-5) has been struggling mightily all season and will be Notre Dame’s worst conference foe it’s faced so far.
While the Eagles have come up short more often than they’ve won, five of its nine losses have come by single digits, meaning they’ve proven to be a very competitive matchup at times during the 2020-21 season. They looked especially impressive last time out against Miami, making a season-high 18 three-pointers in an 84-62 win.
That could be an area of concern for the Irish.
So far this season, Notre Dame’s opponents have shot almost 39% (99-of-255) from beyond the arc and have averaged nine treys per game.
In conference play, the Irish have allowed 43 treys, including a 12-of-24 performance from Virginia during the loss Wednesday.
Despite the rough start to this part of the season, there have been some noticeable bright spots on the floor from the Irish.
Three players — Nate Laszewski (16.7 PPG), Prentiss Hubb (13.7 PPG) and Dane Goodwin (12.5 PPG) — are currently averaging double figures and continue to perform at a high level.
Laszewski has taken the role of most dangerous player when he’s on the court, especially during ACC play. He averaged 20.5 PPG in the last four conference games, and grabbed nearly seven rebounds per game during that span.
Hubb has slowed down a bit from a shooting standpoint (only averaging nine PPG in the last four contests), but he’s been vital when it comes to the distribution of the ball. He has 22 assists since Dec. 30.
For Goodwin, it’s been a struggle on offense in conference play after a very strong beginning to the campaign.
The junior guard has only scored more than six points once in the last four games after having no such games before that all season. For the Irish to be successful, a return to form from him, along with some added help from guys such as Cormac Ryan (9.4 PPG) and Juwan Howard (7.9 PPG) would bode well if Notre Dame hopes to build up some needed momentum starting this weekend.
“The Boston College, Howard stretch right now becomes really important for us,” Brey said Thursday. “If we can get those two in three days, all of a sudden, your food tastes different, it’s brighter every day and things start to change. … But for us to be successful, our guards Cormac, Prentiss, Trey (Wertz) and Dane are a key for us, and we want them to be aggressive, get into a rhythm and guard like heck on the other end.”
Stout defense a necessity against a BC team “that can really shoot it,” Brey said.
Boston College has proved on multiple occasions this season that it can be a very potent team offensively.
Four times in 2020-21, the Eagles have scored at least 80 points, including in two of their last three games.
BC’s guard play has been the driving force behind it all when the team has had offensive success. Jay Heath and Wynston Tabbs both average more than 13 PPG, and Rich Kelly, the team’s best three-point shooter, has emerged as a more well-rounded scoring threat in the past few games.
That could mean difficulties are ahead for an Irish team that allowed Virginia to eclipse 80 points while shooting more than 54% (31-of-57) from the field earlier in the week.
“(Boston College) is coming in hot, there’s no question about it,” Brey said. “Our games are always good and right down to the wire with them. This is a skilled team that can really shoot it, and we’ve had a hard time getting out and showing enough attention to detail on clean shooting. We’re going to have to get better before we see the Eagles.”