College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Saint Mary’s vs. Notre Dame: How to Bet Late-Night at Maui Invitational
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- Saint Mary's and Notre Dame clash in the first round of the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas.
- This is expected to be one of the most highly-anticipated matchups in the tournament.
- Doug Ziefel breaks down the matchup and offers up his pick.
Saint Mary’s vs. Notre Dame Odds
|Saint Mary’s Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Notre Dame Odds|
-110o / -110u
The Maui Invitational gives us a dandy of a matchup that will be worth staying up for if you’re on the East Coast. The Saint Mary’s Gaels square off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Each of these programs have started the season hot, as through six games played, there is not a loss between them. This matchup will give us great insight about these two teams as they are projected to be very evenly matched.
What matters most in determining who will prevail? And will that be the defensive-minded Gaels, or the highly-efficient Irish?
Gaels Brought Back Lockdown Defense
The Saint Mary’s program may be best known for playing the annual role of West Coast Conference bridesmaid to the powerhouse Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Last season was a different story, though, as the team was unfortunately ravaged by COVID and lost its two top shooters to injury early in the year. That ultimately led to a 14-10 finish.
While last season was uncharacteristic, it was not all bad. The Gaels finished the season ranked 13th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. That rating was built by the core of young players stepping up after injuries, and it has now formed a returning group that brings the same intensity.
The early numbers are showing just how stout this Saint Mary’s team is on the defensive end. The Gaels are 16th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to Bart Torvik. Diving a little bit deeper, the Gaels rank 47th in opponent points, sixth in opponent assists and 17th in opponent rebounds per game.
The old adage may be that “defense wins championships,” but to win you in the modern age, you must put the ball in the bucket. The Gaels have more than a few guys who can do just that.
Their leading scorer is senior Dan Fotu. The 6-foot-7 forward from New Zealand has shown the ability to stretch the floor, while also being highly effective on the low block.
Fotu is joined by a pair of fellow seniors who are showing how highly-efficient defense leads to highly-efficient offense.
Matthias Tass and Tommy Kuhse are both averaging double figures on the season but are doing it at an elite rate. Tass has an offensive rating of 135.8 per 100 possessions and Kuhse holds a rating of 118. Tass is in the 99.9th percentile and Kuhse is in the 93rd.
Experienced Irish Play With Grit
Tenured head coach Mike Brey has always been associated with success throughout his time at Notre Dame, but recently, that has not been the case.
The Irish have only won more than 20 games twice in the last five years and have subsequently missed the NCAA Tournament each of the last four seasons.
This year’s group consists of upperclassmen who haven’t witnessed the winning culture that Notre Dame has been synonymous with.
The downfall for the Fighting Irish has been their defense, as there are certainly no concerns about their ability to score. The rank of 13th in adjusted offensive efficiency towers over their rank of 93rd in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Brey echoed that improving on the defensive end was a focal point of the offseason. Through two games, strides appear to have been made. They have held opponents to an average of 56.5 points per game and a 38.2 two-point field goal percentage.
Notre Dame finished the 2020-21 season 21st in adjusted offensive efficiency and now, has an even higher ranking this season.
One big reason for the improved offense is graduate transfer Paul Atkinson Jr. The former Yale product is the team’s leading scorer and has given the Irish a nice one-two punch with junior guard Dane Goodwin.
Goodwin has been the backbone of this team. His outside shooting touch makes him a constant threat, but his determination on the boards is what really fuels the club.
Saint Mary’s vs. Notre Dame Betting Pick
As I said in the intro, this is going to be a great game that should be tightly contested.
At the time of writing, there is no line posted, but Bart Torvik makes the Fighting Irish a one-point favorite. If they can carry over their defensive efforts I agree with the projection.
Another angle for this game is the under, depending on the number. The Gaels are 347th in pace and Notre Dame is not much faster at 261st.