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Five things: Notre Dame

The ‘Noles travel out of state for just the 2nd time this season

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

You can’t play all your games in the state of Florida, so the ‘Noles are forced to travel to Indiana for a Saturday matchup against Notre Dame.

1. Every year there is some annoying ACC team (hi, Virginia) that stumbles through out-of-conference play, only to discover themselves in the new year, win a bunch of games, and crush the conference NET rankings. For the past two years, who’s that annoying team? Florida State! Last year FSU won three ooc games, and then somehow managed to win seven against conference foes, including a bad loss for Pitt that had them sweating bullets on Selection Sunday. This year the ‘Noles ooc slate featured losses to Georgia, South Florida, and Lipscomb, yet the ‘Noles are 2nd in the ACC four games in, tied with Duke and one game ahead of preseason No. 13 Miami (of FL). If the ‘Noles can sneak a couple out on the road, they may avoid having to play on Wednesday of the ACC Tournament. One of the best opportunities comes on Saturday at Notre Dame.

2. The Domers are a fascinating team. They can’t shoot, but hey, you can’t make ‘em if you don’t try, so they’re top-50 nationally in jacked 3s despite being 327th in 3-pt%. There are only two teams that take more 3s while finding less success, and one of them is named Texas A&M Commerce. Jamir Watkins has attempted the 2nd most 3s for FSU (2.7 per game), and he would be 6th at ND in attempts. If there is a player to watch, it is freshman (and coaches son) Braeden Shrewsberry who has the greenest of green lights, and starting 20-77 (26%) didn’t deter his “shooters shoot” mentality, and now he’s made 10 of his last 17 (59%).

3. The ‘Noles first 3-game win streak in two years has been fueled by offense (say what?), scoring 82, 77, and 87 points. But if you look deeper at the numbers you’ll see that FSU’s defense is turning ACC teams over on 20% of their possessions. This is something we harp about regularly on the podcast. FSU cannot run good offense unless they’re getting live ball turnovers. The constant pressure of a disruptive defense leads to so many good things on the court, including quick scores, tired opponents, and ball handlers suddenly discovering they’re real desire is to be catch-and-shoot guys.

4. If you’re a schedule peeper, you’ll notice that Notre Dame lost to Citadel by 22. At home. But hey, you might be saying, the Citadel is a pesky mid-major. Nope. They’re 0-3 in the Southern Conference. Even with FSU’s complete train wreck over the past couple of seasons, nothing even comes close to matching a loss that bad. But in ACC play, the Irish have beaten Virginia, won at Georgia Tech in OT, somehow blew a 6-point lead in the final minute against NC State, and played Duke close. So clearly, like FSU, they’re finding their footing.

5. Michah Shrewsberry is an Indiana high school basketball legend who now coaches one of the major universities in the State. He sandwiched an assistant coach gig with the Celtics around assistant coaching gigs for Purdue and Butler, and he was the head coach at D2 IU South Bend. He’s clearly comfortable in Indiana, and seemed out of place in his two years at Penn State. What does all this mean? I have no idea, but we have NBA coaches with ties to FSU (Sam Cassell, Luke Loucks) and maybe they can catch up with Coach Shrewsberry about the joys of coaching in college.