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Top 20 ACC battle on tap

January 05, 2015 18:13:30 UK

The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame are the visitors to the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill on Monday when they play the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Notre Dame remain one of the question marks of the early going following a non-conference schedule that saw the Irish lose just once, and by a single point, to the Friars of Providence.

An overtime defeat of Michigan State was the highlight of Notre Dame’s November and December play and with the Spartans’ subsequent struggles it’s hard to quantify just how good the Irish are.

Conference wins over Florida State and Georgia Tech, the latter in double overtime on Saturday, also don’t answer the question and hence the interest in a match-up with a legitimate contender when Mike Brey’s side takes on the Tar Heels.

North Carolina, meanwhile, suffered defeats to Butler, Iowa and Kentucky in non-conference play, but there is more than a lingering suspicion that Roy Williams’ side is set up better for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

Back to back games against the Irish and then Louisville Cardinals should test the Tar Heels and give an early indication as to who is likely to challenge Duke and Virginia for the ACC title.

Notre Dame are 3.90 to defeat North Carolina, with the Tar Heels 1.27 to take the victory.

Ohio State fell to North Carolina prior to Christmas and also have losses to Iowa and Louisville.

Tuesday the Buckeyes look to build on their win over Illinois over the weekend when they travel to the Williams Arena in Minneapolis to take on the Golden Gophers of Minnesota, as they look to keep pace with Maryland and Wisconsin in the Big Ten.

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