Vegas Odds: Notre Dame by 2.5 -- Bet at bodog
Why Old Dominion will win:
This is an interesting case where the lower seeded team is ranked substantially higher in the RPI then they're opponent. 27th to 49th. ODU's won 8 of 9 games, and the earlier win against Georgetown shows they can hang with Big East teams. The Monarchs have good size, and ND's lack of dominant guard helps ODU because they are a front-court heavy team.
Monarch to Watch:
Kent Bazemore, G/F - 8 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg
While Gerald Lee is ODU's best player, Bazemore could be a key here. He's good at picking off steals, and when he gets 4-5 assists or more, ODU tends to win. This is because its a sign the offense is flowing better. In ODU's first 5 losses, he only had 3 assists total.
Why Notre Dame will win:
The Irish got hot at the right time, winning of 6 of 7 to close the season, including a close 2-point loss to West Virginia. The good run coincided with a change in ND's philosophy to slow down the pace of the game. They've beaten 5 Top 50 teams, something ODU only did once.
Irish to Watch:
Luke Harangody, F - 22 ppg, 9 rpg, 2 apg
Don't buy the nonsense that ND is better off w/o Harangody. If the Irish are going to make some noise, he'll need to get back to giving a productive 30 minutes.
How it will go down:
If ND opts to play the slow down game, it should result in an extremely close game. In fact, I think ND would be better served to push the pace again. ODU hasn't broken 65 points in their losses, and can struggle to score at times.. which will be their downfall here.
Betting Pick: Notre Dame (I wouldn't really touch this line, should be close.)
Real Pick: Notre Dame