Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh: Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (12/28/21)

Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh Betting Odds

Two middling ACC teams Tuesday night when Notre Dame travels to Pittsburgh to play the Panthers.

The Irish enter conference play at 6-5 with one big résumé victory over Kentucky. Meanwhile, Pitt is 5-7 with two losses to KenPom sub-200 teams.

However, Notre Dame is laying five points in this road matchup, and it’s just 2-5 against the spread as a favorite this season. The Irish are also a mediocre 3-8 against the spread overall.

On the contrary, Pitt is 5-2 against the spread as an underdog this season, as well as 7-5 against the spread overall.

So, is it worth buying Pitt as a home dog? Or are the Panthers overmatched?

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Odds

Notre Dame is a tough team to get a grip on. Mike Brey’s squad is experienced, with all five starters being upperclassmen. Plus, the team is led by an ACC star in Cormac Ryan.

But bad losses have come in bunches. The Irish were held to under 60 points in three of their losses this season, the worst of which came at the hands of Boston College.

Notre Dame is a high-variance team, however, considering it ranks among the top-50 in 3-point rate (45.9% 3PA/FGA) while ranking among the bottom-100 in free-throw rate (27.4% FTA/FGA). So far, it seems the Irish have been on the wrong side of the regression machine.

Per ShotQuality’s metrics, Notre Dame is 53rd in adjusted offensive shot quality despite ranking 134th in effective field goal percentage (50.7%). Plus, the team is top-30 in adjusted defensive shot quality despite allowing opponents to shoot 37.6% from deep (315th).

The 3-point defense pops off the page more when you consider Notre Dame allows the 59th lowest 3-point rate nationally (33.1% 3PA/FGA).

All-in-all, Notre Dame’s opponents are not getting a lot of good 3-point looks, and ShotQuality awards the Irish a 7-4 record rather than 6-5.

Other notes on Notre Dame:

  • Nate Laszewski and Paul Atkinson headline a frontcourt rotation that’s top-30 nationally in defensive rebounding rate.
  • The Irish have gotten in a lot of foul trouble, ranking 218th in defensive free-throw rate, but opponents are making just 62.5% of those attempts, which is eighth annually. That’s not good.
  •  The Irish play at one of the slowest tempos in the nation.

Pittsburgh Panthers Odds

I’m rather low on Pitt, which boasts one of the worst offenses in the country.

The Panthers run a slow-paced progression offense and rarely get out in transition. However, Pitt is scoring a lousy .79 points per possession in the half-court (14th percentile).

The offense tries to key in on post-up possessions, wherein the Panthers rank 63rd in the percentage of shots taken at the rim. But the Panthers also have the 13th-lowest field-goal percentage at the rim and are outside the top-300 in 2-point shooting.

When the big guys don’t get the job done, Pitt tries to look for inside-out opportunities and find open perimeter shooters. But not a single Panther shoots better than 35% from deep. As a result, the Panthers rank outside the top-300 in 3-point shooting and in the 14th percentile in spot-up points per possession.

The only way Pitt can score is at the free-throw line, wherein the Panthers are second nationally in free-throw rate (45.7% FGA/FTA) and percentage of points scored at the charity stripe (25%). Guard Femi Odukale and big man John Hugley are both averaging almost seven free-throw attempts per game.

Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh Prediction and Pick

My pick: Pitt +4 (-110 at FanDuel)

The free-throw line is where Pitt can keep this game within reach.

As mentioned, Pitt gets to the line more than almost every team in the country. Meanwhile, Notre Dame can’t keep out of foul trouble. At 6-foot-5, look for Odukale to run downhill and draw fouls on a smaller-sized Irish team.

Additionally, it’s always sharp to play a home dog, and I love catching over four points in this spot. Jeff Capel III doesn’t have a stellar home dog record, but he’s covered in four of his last five opportunities. Meanwhile, coach Brey is just 20-27 against the spread as a road favorite.

It’s an ugly pick, but the right one. Hold your nose and bet the Panthers to keep this one close at the line.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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