If you haven't heard, a big time battle between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Louisville takes place tonight.
Both teams have a chip on their shoulder.
But it was Louisville who handed Notre Dame two of their three loses last season as they were swept in a 101-67 loss followed by a 74-72 loss in the ACC Tournament championship game.
The Irish used those losses ultimately to propel them into winning their second program national championship. Louisville would have met up with them for a third time in the title game, but lost to Mississippi State in the semifinals. You have to think that nearly everyone on Louisville felt that could have been them.
The stakes are high, the rivalry is real and it is certainly about to be as intense as ever between these two programs. But the fact is, it is still January. There will be no hardware handed out tonight, no nets to cut down no confetti falling from the rafters. But this matchup does go a long way in terms of rankings, RPI, seeding and championships.
The Offensive Threats
Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale enters the game averaging 22.7 points per game as Louisville's Asia Durr comes in at 20.9 points per game as the top two scorers in the ACC.
Durr has a proven ability to go off against Notre Dame. She averaged 26.5 points per game against Notre Dame last year including a 39 point performance in their January win. Ogunbowale averaged 12.5 against the Cardinals last season.
Defending these two is not a one or two person job, it is a five person responsibility every second that clicks off the clock. Seeing these two veteran competitors compete on this stage is worth the price of admission itself. Who will rise to the occasion? You could argue both will, but it comes down to who is able to defend.
The Cards in New Territory
The No. 1 Irish sit at 14-1, 2-0 in the ACC with their lone loss to UConn over a month ago. They are currently on a seven game win streak coming off a 76-55 route of Georgia Tech last weekend.
No. 2 Louisville is at 14-0, 2-0 in the ACC and is one of the final two remaining undefeated teams in the country.
This is just the first time Louisville has played in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in program history. And this is the second time this season that Notre Dame has played in one. In fact, the Irish have become completely accustomed to this stage as this will be the seventh 1 vs. 2 matchup in the last 10 years.
Notre Dame's Dominance at Home
The Irish hold a 14-6 series lead between the pair, but it's their home court advantage that arguably plays a major role in the Irish being the favorite tonight. Notre Dame has an overall home record of 108-4 since 2012. Three of those losses came to UConn while the other was Baylor in 2012.
Be sure to tune into tonight's matchup at 7:00pm ET on ESPN.