NCAA Basketball Picks: Wake Forest vs. Notre Dame

Darin Zank

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 2:44 PM GMT

Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015 2:44 PM GMT

Notre Dame is headed for the NCAA tournament, while Wake Forest is not. But the Irish are 0-4 against the spread their last four games, while the Demon Deacons are 11-4 ATS their last 15 times out. What's our call on tonight's ACC match-up in South Bend?

Wake Forest Deacons vs. Notre Dame Irish
The NCAA basketball odds opened Notre Dame at -11 for Tuesday night's game; in the early betting some books bumped the Irish to -11.5 and -12.

Bettors who believe Wake Forest might pull the upset here could get +550 on the moneyline at 5Dimes.

 

Deacons-Irish: Background
Notre Dame started 20-2 this season, up through its upset victory over Duke three weeks ago. But since then the Irish are 2-2 SU, 0-4 ATS, with a loss at Pitt, a win but non-cover against Boston College, a 30-point revenge loss at Duke and, most recently, seven days ago, a 60-58 win/non-cover at Clemson.

Notre Dame trailed the Tigers late last Tuesday, but scored eight of the last 10 points and survived a crazy last few seconds for the victory. But Irish bettors crapped out because Notre Dame, at -3, didn't get a chance to ice the cover at the free-throw line, thanks to a late turnover.

The Irish only shot 43 percent from the floor in that game, and got out-rebounded 38-26, but made their free-throws – 10 of 13 – and only turned the ball over eight times.

Ten days ago Notre Dame got blown out by Duke 90-60, but we're going to call that one a bit of an aberration; the Blue Devils just shot the hell out of the ball that night.

At 22-4 overall, 10-3 in conference play Notre Dame sits in second place in the ACC, two games behind first-place Virginia. Big-picture, the Irish are almost assuredly headed back to the Big Dance, after missing out last year.

Wake Forest began this season with limited expectations for its first campaign under new head coach Danny Manning, and it's played about to those expectations so far. The Deacons went 8-6 through non-conference season, then won just one of their first seven ACC games. However, several of those losses could be called close, including two in overtime on the road. But Wake then won three of its next four games, and last time out nearly pulled a big upset, falling at ACC-leading Virginia 61-60, easily covering as an 18-point favorite.

In fact, in winning their last three non-conference games, then keeping things close in most of their ACC contests, the Deacons are 11-4 ATS since Christmas.

Wake actually led the Cavaliers at the half last Saturday, and had a chance to tie or win late, but couldn't come up with a free-throw or, in the very end, get off a shot. The Deacons made just 12 of 22 free-throw attempts, and that's essentially what cost them the upset.

At 12-14 overall, 4-9 in the ACC Wake is playing for the future at the moment, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

This is the first meeting this season between these two teams. Last season Wake Forest swept two games from Notre Dame, winning 65-58 at home, then knocking off the Irish in the opening round of the ACC tournament 81-69. But Notre Dame is a little better team right now than it was last spring, with G Jerian Grant back in the fold.

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Key Stats
On the season Wake is shooting just 43 percent from the floor, 34 percent from 3-point land and only 64 percent from the FT line. Defensively the Deacons are allowing opponents to shoot 44 percent.

Notre Dame is shooting 51 percent from the floor, which ranks second-best in the country, 40 percent from 3-point range, which is also great, and 71 percent from the line, while holding foes to 42 percent shooting.

 

Deacons-Irish Betting Trends
Wake has trended toward the OVERS this season by a 14-5 margin, as Deacons games have averaged 141 points.

Notre Dame is 9-7 on the totals, as Irish games have averaged 144 points.

 

Deacons-Irish Free Pick
Notre Dame has won several close games this season, while Wake Forest has lost several close ones. Perhaps those trends will bounce off each other tonight. We can't go as far as to say the Demon Deacons will pull the upset here tonight, but both teams are playing a lot of close games, and this spread might be a tad inflated. So we'll go with Danny's boys and the points for tonight.

Free College Basketball Pick: Wake Forest +12 at 5Dimes

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