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Know your enemy: Three things to know about Ohio State’s B1G-ACC Challenge opponent, Notre Dame

The Buckeyes’ non-conference schedule is starting to fall into place.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Tournament-Boston College vs Notre Dame Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State will travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame in this year’s edition of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, per CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein. The game will take place on Dec. 8 or 9, with each day assumedly taking seven of the 14 games between the two premier conferences in college basketball.

Ohio State beat North Carolina by 25 points on the road in last year’s B1G/ACC challenge matchup, and will be facing Notre Dame for the first time since 2013 when the teams meet in just over six weeks. Ohio State, led by Thad Matta at the time, beat Notre Dame 64-61 in Madison Square Garden that season.

The game vs Notre Dame should round out Ohio State’s non-conference schedule, as they are allowed to play a total of 27 games during the regular season. In addition to their 20 conference games, they will also face North Carolina in the CBS Sports Classic (Dec. 19), up to three games in the “Crossover Classic” AKA “Battle 4 Atlantis” AKA “Battle 4 South Dakota” (Nov. 25-27), Morehead State (Dec.2), and Alabama A&M (Dec.5).

Notre Dame, led by longtime head coach Mike Brey, went 20-12 last season. They were an NCAA Tournament bubble team before the tournament was cancelled, going an even 10-10 in ACC play. The Fighting Irish saw five seniors graduate from last year’s team, including their top two scorers, leading rebounder, and three of their top four assist men.

What are the most interesting things about this team, and what should we watch for? Here are three things you need to know about the Notre Dame Fighting Irish:

1) Notre Dame’s best shooter is a former Ohio State commit

NCAA Basketball: Crossroads Classic-Notre Dame at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Hailing from Upper Arlington, just up the road from the Schottenstein Center, Dane Goodwin de-committed from Ohio State during the summer of 2017 when Thad Matta was fired. Unlike Justin Ahrens, who re-signed with Ohio State after initially de-committing as well, Goodwin instead opted to sign with Mike Brey and the Fighting Irish.

Goodwin, now a junior, averaged 10.6 points per game last year and is Notre Dame’s second-highest returning scorer behind fellow guard Prentiss Hubb. He shot 37.7% from beyond the arc last, and will enter this season as Notre Dame’s biggest 3-point threat. If you’re interested in how Notre Dame’s record stacks up with Ohio State’s during the two Goodwin’s two seasons (2018-2020), you’ll be pleased to know that Ohio State (41-25) has been noticeably better than Notre Dame (34-31).

2) They don’t have a full roster

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA maximum is 13 scholarships for a basketball team, but Notre Dame currently has 11 scholarship players on its roster, plus walk-on Elijah Morgan. In comparison, Ohio State has 14 players on its roster, including one walk-on (Harrison Hookfin) and 13 scholarship athletes. This means that right now, Notre Dame has two scholarships not being used that probably shouldn’t be wasted during a season effected by a global pandemic. Three of those 11 scholarship players are freshmen too, so Notre Dame heads into this season with just eight players on their roster who have scored more than one career basket.

Would this matter in a regular season? Probably not. Many coaches, Chris Holtmann included, have been known to only go eight or nine players deep once they get into the thick of the season. But during a season where COVID-19 constantly looms, one player getting sick could quickly turn into four or five. It is certainly something to keep an eye on as Dec. 8 draws closer.

3) Notre Dame has never lost in the B1G/ACC Challenge at home

Michael Caterina/ Tribune Photo

Since Notre Dame basketball joined the ACC in 2012, they have gone 4-3 in the B1G/ACC challenge, most recently losing to Maryland on the road last year. But overall the Fighting Irish are above .500, mainly because of their sterling home record against the B1G. Their 3-0 home record includes wins over Illinois, Iowa and Michigan State so far, and they’ll be looking to add Ohio State to that list.

On the flip side, the Buckeyes have gone 3-5 on the road while participating in the cross-conference challenge, with their most recent win on the road coming last year in Chapel Hill when they embarrassed North Carolina on their home court, winning by 25. You have to go all the way back to 2010 to find their next road win against the ACC, when Ohio State beat Florida State 58-44 in Tallahassee. John Diebler was the Buckeyes’ leading scorer in that game with 12 points.