Friday, February 24, 2006

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Marquette @ Notre Dame

February 25, 2006

For me, the most interesting game on Saturday's schedule in the conference is Notre Dame and Marquette. After their loss at Rutgers, Marquette rebounded impressively with a pair of home wins over Georgetown and Pittsburgh. Now, they head back on the road for a rematch of their earlier win against Notre Dame. At 8-5 in the conference, Marquette definitely has hopes for a Big East Tournament bye, this is a must win for those hopes to stay alive.

Notre Dame had their three-game winning streak snapped this week in a thrilling loss at Connecticut. Notre Dame still finds themselves on the outside looking in with regards to a berth in the Big East Tournament, with their schedule, a win on Saturday could set them up for a little run to close their schedule.

To read our preview and see our game prediction, click read more below and don't forget to leave your prediction in the comments section!


Back on January 20th, Steve Novak scored 28 pts, includeing a 18-footer with 1 second left to lift Marquette to a 67-65 win over Notre Dame in the Bradley Center. This time, the rematch will take place in the Joyce Center on the Notre Dame campus.

The Irish are going to have to find someone to slow down Novak in this one. They also need to be careful of the athletic advantage Dominic James holds over their guards, as well as nearly every other guard on the conference, to put themselves in better position this time. The Irish should be able to find some success in the paint with Rick Cornett and Torin Francis, but their move to four-guard looks will be challenged often by the offensive quickness of the Golden Eagles.

However, I tend to like Notre Dame in this spot. It has been well documented the number of times the Irish have come close, only to fall in the end. Their list of tough losses, both home and away, consist of the best teams in the conference. Marquette has lost their last three conference road games and coming off the emotional high of their previous week, there looks to be a letdown somewhere.

Colin Falls found room to hit 6/13 from beyond the arc in the first meeting and I look for Chris Quinn to have an excellent game and lead his Irish teammates to a big win.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Notre Dame 77 Marquette 71

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Notre Dame @ Connecticut

February 21, 2006

Notre Dame looks to extend their three game winning streak, but the task gets much tougher, as they travel to Hartford to meet the Connecticut Huskies. With wins over Rutgers, South Florida and their first conference road win at Seton Hall over the weekend, the Irish have put themselves in MUCH better position in earning a trip to the Big East tournament. After tonight, they host Marquette and DePaul with a trip to Providence in between to finish out conference play.

UConn remains just one game behind Villanova in the race for the Big East reular season title and will get their chance at the Wildcats this Sunday. But, in the meantime, they must take care of business against Notre Dame tonight and not be looking ahead. The Irish 3-pt shooting firepower can keep them close enough to surprise you.

Here are the pregame stories and previews from around the internet:

Big East Title Still Within UConn's reach (Danbury News Times Live)
Tough Notre Dame Team Comes to Town (Norwich Bulletim)
Academic Clause Causes Irish to Bounce Around
Irish Riding a Fine Line (Elkhart Truth)
Calhoun Counts on Williams in Clutch (Middletown Press)
Huskies Need Hawaiian Punch (Hartford Courant)
Inside Out Swing Puts Huskies on Track (Middletown Press)
Like All Shooters, Falls Can be Quirky (South Bend Tribune)
ND Will Be Back in Black (South Bend Trib)

For our preview and prediction on the game, click below!


Before the Connecticut Men's basketball team can begin to think about Villanova, they must deal with Notre Dame first. At least they will get some practice playing against a guard-orientated perimeter attack. Notre Dame has resorted to the 4-guard philosophy of the Wildcats in hopes of shaking up their season. Tonight, their new look will get its biggest test when they battle the Huskies.

Mike Brey has been using Kyle McAlarney, Chris Quinn, Russell Carter and Colin Falls on the floor together more and more. This group is not nearly as explosive offensively or ball-hawking defensively as the 'Nova quartet of Lowry, Foye, Ray and Nardi, but it does spread the floor and Notre Dame will hit the 3-pt shot as well as anyone in the nation.

Connecticut has the size advantage with Rudy Gay, Hilton Armstrong and Josh Boone and they can slide Gay to a power forward spot and go a little quicker themselves in these types of match-ups. Connecticut has the athletes and inside play that usually is a tough match-up for Notre Dame to handle.

I am not sure how long Notre Dame will be able to use their 4-guard look tonight with the inside dominance of UConn. Torin Francis is going to need help and even if they go bigger with Rick Cornett, Rob Kurz or Luke Zeller, there is not much they will be able to do to slow down the Connecticut inside attack.

Notre Dame has been playing everyone very close and their ability to hit 3-pt shots in bunches will probably draw them reasonably close at times. The line says UConn as 14-pt favorites. They will probably lead comfortably around that number for much of the game.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Connecticut 83 Notre Dame 70

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Friday, February 17, 2006

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Notre Dame @ Seton Hall

February 18, 2006

Seton Hall's win over West Virginia Tuesday night put the Pirates in VERY good position for an NCAA Tournament bid, something nobody gave SHU much hope for before the season began. On Saturday, they look to put what could be the final stamp on their resume by beating Notre Dame.

It might be a saying that is overdone, but Notre Dame IS much better than their 3-8 conference record. They have won their last two games, both at home, over Rutgers and South Florida and will now look to add their first conference road win, after 5 defeats, two in overtime, by a combined 15 pts. They also still find themselves one game out of the mix for a Big East Tournament spot, and they have a trip to Connecticut following this game.

For our the rest of our preview and prediction on the game, click below!


No doubt Louis Orr and his Seton Hall Pirates are one of the best stories in the country. With a head coach left hung out to dry since last spring, through the entire recruiting season, the Pirates have banded together and won seven of their last eight games to go from a conference bottom-feeder to challenging for a bye in the conference tournament. Led by seniors Donald Copeland and Kelly Whitney as well as getting timely contributions from Jamar Nutter, Brian Laing, Paul Gause, Grant Billmeier and the return of Stan Gaines, SHU is playing some very good ball right now. They have shown they can be more than a team that just relies on their defense. However, it will still be their defense that carries them into the NCAA Tournament, especially against a team as skilled as Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish story for 2005-2006 has been well documented and losing close games has been their forte throughout the conference season. The Irish tend to be limited athletically and physically inside, meaning they continuously come up short at the end of close games in getting key stops or making the big play. They have very capable players, led by Chris Quinn, but it seems any limitation any of them have gets exploited at the key points in games by opponents.

Notre Dame got an ugly win Wednesday over South Florida in a game the Irish shot 4-20 from 3-pt range, including 0-9 from Colin Falls. I think you can count on the Irish shooting better than that against the Pirates. Notre Dame has some favorable match-ups, but will have to deal with the quickness advantage the Pirate guards have. They also must have Torin Francis be a threat offensively and defensively inside and make things tough for Kelly Whitney. Francis and Rick Cornett have to team together to at least match Whitney's output and the Irish need something from their power forward spot. The Irish have also been tinkering with a 4-guard line-up to spread the floor and create more room for their shooters.

Seton Hall will have to continue giving their full effort and working hard on defense. They need to be on Colin Falls the entire time and not let him get going offensively. If Falls is taken away on the offensive side of the ball, it is a major advantage to Seton Hall because he is a one-dimensional player. However, for some reason, I just have a feeling that Falls is able to get free for some threes and Francis brings the game many thought he would flash for some time now. I think Seton Hall suffers an ill-timed let down on Saturday and lets one slip away as Notre Dame earns that elusive close win.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Notre Dame 66 Seton Hall 65

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: South Florida @ Notre Dame

February 15, 2006

Notre Dame finally had something to smile about in their last game, a romp over Rutgers. Tonight, they welcome the winless (in conference play) South Florida Bulls to South Bend and will be looking for some more smiles as they shoot for their 2nd conference win in a row.

Here are the pregame stories and previews from around the internet:

USF at Notre Dame Preview (St. Petersburg Time)
Bulls Are Destined for History (Tampa Tribune)
Time is Tight in Big East (Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette)
Irish Hoping to Make Big East Conference Tourney Push (Forty Wayne News Sentinel)
USF Can Relate to ND Pain (South Bend Tribune)

Due to time constraints, this preview is going to be a little short and sweet!
The BUlls have lost 12-straight games and sit at 0-10 in the conference, staring at the real possibility of going 0-16 in their inagural Big East season. They have had their share of close losses, as seven of their ten defeates have been by 6 pts or less, but that is probably no solace for the short-handed Bulls.

The Irish know all about close losses, too, losing by just 6 pts or less in all 8 of their conference games. At 2-8, the Irish actually outscore Big East opponents 80-78.5 in conference play, yet are just 2-8!! That, to me, is an astonishing stat. It also shows Notre Dame's inability to win close games, which has exposed the flaws of their team.

However, tonight, I expect the Irish to come up big at home and put this game out of reach early. The shooting ability of the Irish and playing at home will have them in good position to tighten up the race for the final Big East tournament spot. The Irish are 14-pt favorites and this one should not be close.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Notre Dame 82 South Florida 65

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Rutgers @ Notre Dame

February 8, 2006

Notre Dame looks to take out some frustration tonight on their home floor against Rutgers. We all know the Notre Dame story and all their tough losses as they are just 1-8 in the conference and fighting for an invite to the Big East tournament, let alone the NCAA or NIT. Tonight, they will attempt to close the gap on themselves and 12th place when they take on the Scarlet Knights.

Things are not going well for Rutgers as they have lost five of their last six games and now must face the next several weeks without starting freshmen forward JR Inman who broke his leg in their loss to Seton Hall on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights and reeling and Gary Waters has to be feeling the pressure.

Here are the pregame stories and previews from around the internet:

ND Not Your Average .500 Team (Chicago Tribune)
Rutgers Guard Lacks Experience, Not Production (Journal Gazette)
Rutgers Test is Douby-ous (South Bend Tribune)
Rutgers/ND Notes (Star-Ledger)
Rutgers-ND Scouting Report (Courier News)

For our preview and prediction on the game, click below!


Maybe it is the craze that Villanova and Jay Wright has started with the four guard look because you can expect to see up to eight guards on the floor at a time in tonight's Notre Dame/Rutgers battle. With Rob Kurz, Luke Zeller and Rick Cornett not producing how Mike Brey would like, he has turned to a line-up lately that has featured Chris Quinn, Russell Carter, Kyle McAlarney and Colin Falls on the perimeter with Torin Francis in the middle. At Rutgers, the injury to JR Inman has limited their depth along the front line and it is very likely that the Scarlet Knights will counter with a line-up that features Anthony Farmer, Quincy Douby, Marquis Webb and Jaron Griffin with a revolving door at C that will include Byron Joynes, Frank Russell, Jimmie Inglis and Dan Waterstradt. They will also use Ollie Bailey at forward when they go to a more traditional 3-guard line-up (my how the game has changed in college to where a 3-guard line-up is traditional).

For Rutgers, playing on the road is never easy and going to South Bend after the loss to Seton Hall on the court and JR Inman to injury is probably not what they had in mind as a relaxing winter trip. As usual, it will be as far as Quincy Douby can take them, but without Inman, who had the most potential in giving Douby some help, it almost seems that not matter what Douby does, it will not be enough.

Again, it never seems like Notre Dame plays bad, they just come up short. Usually, the key defensive stop or rebound is not within their grasp, but they can still shoot it and that will continue to put the pressure on Rutgers to score. Rutgers actually matches up fairly well, especially with the athletes they can put on the floor against the 4-guard look for Notre Dame, but I don't beleive they will keep up with the Irish three's. Of course, live by the three, you could die by the three as well. But, on their home floor, the Irish should live tonight.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Notre Dame 72 Rutgers 64

The Irish are 7-pt favorites in the game.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Notre Dame @ Louisville

February 4, 2006

Notre Dame's struggles in tight games during the Big East have been well-documented and I am sure, to the Notre Dame fan, beaten to death. On the other side, Louisville is also struggling and the two teams have combined for a 3-13 conference record and, at the half way mark in conference play, this becomes a pivital game for each team in their hopes for making the Big East Tournament in March.

Heading into the season, we felt that this could be a Notre Dame team that surprised some with how they would fare in the conference. After being victimized by a top-heavy schedule the last couple years, pushing the Irish off the NCAA bubble into the NIT, this was a season that shaped up favorably and they could be the team that used the schedule to their favor to make a run. So far, it has not happened. Even with a team that, for the most part, starts two seniors and two juniors, the Irish continue to lose close games down the stretch when you hope experience would take over. The Irish usually find themselves having to make a furious comeback after falling behind by large numbers only to fall short late in the game. It is a recurring theme of every game in conference play to this point, except for their lone conference win against Providence. The Irish had to hope that they would survive their first eight conference games, maybe getting three or four wins, and then look for a strong finish against a favorable schedule. The truth is, they still have that favorable schedule down the stretch, but the hole they have dug means they will have to win 7 of their last 8, quite a turnaround, but with a few favorable bounces, beginning Saturday, it is not out of the realm of possibility.

For our the rest of our preview and prediction on the game, click below!


Louisville has to hope they are finally rounding into shape. Injuries to David Padgett, Juan Palacios, Taquan Dean, Brian Johnson, Chad Millard, etc have ripped the Cardinals of any chance to gel together and gain consistency. I thought Louisville has actually played pretty well over their last four games, but in the new Big East, sometimes playing well can have a cruel outcome and the Cards have lost three of those four games. Their schedule the rest of the way is fair, but still challenging enough with Syracuse, Cincinnati, West Virginia and Connecticut all on the road that slipping up at home will destroy any chance they have of getting back into the NCAA picture. Holding serve at home and finding a way to win two of those road games could thrust Louisville back into a positve light, so that push MUST begin NOW.

The match-up with these two teams is interesting. The Louisville defense along the perimeter is going to have to be on their toes and limit the Irish their open looks from 3-pt range. The Cardinals will also have to go inside and work the Irish over near the rim and use their athletic advantage to rebound and transition against the Irish. Playing at home against an Irish team that must be wearing down physically and mentally with all the challenging games shoulf give the Cardinals the lift they need.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Louisville 69 Notre Dame 65

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006


VERBAL COMMITMENT ALERT: Jonathan Peoples (G), St, Joseph (Ill).

The Chicago Sun-Times had an article on Peoples' commitment to Notre Dame: St Joseph Star Peoples Picks ND and the South Bend Tribune also has the story on the commitment: Brey Adds Guard to 2006 Class.

Projected 2006-2007 Roster
Seniors: Colin Falls (WG), Russell Carter (SG)
Juniors: Robert Kurz (F)
Sophomores: Randy Ayers (F/G), Kyle McAlarney (G), Zack Hillesland (F), Luke Zeller (BF/C)
Freshmen: Luke Harangody (BF), Tory Jackson (PG), Jonathan Peoples (G)

Link to previous Notre Dame recruiting report: http://bebballreportnd.blogspot.com/2005/09/notre-dame-recruiting-update.htmlsept 21 report, July 21 Report.

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What the Irish have been lacking this season is athleticism on the perimeter and physical play underneath. In the Big East, missing those ingredients is what will get you a 1-6 mark in this conference. So far on the recruiting trail, Mike Brey and his Irish staff seem to be making progress in helpin cure those ills in the Irish program.

After spending the weekend taking in another close Irish loss as Notre Dame fell to Villanova in the final seconds on Saturday night, Jonathan Peoples of the fames St Joseph in Chicago, IL decided Notre Dame was where he wanted to play his college basketball.

Peoples is a 6'3 guard that is athletic and strong enough to play as a wing guard in 3-guard sets. He is quick and explosive, so creating his own offense in the open floor is a strength and he has the physical make-up to defend the perimeter, something that continues to bite Notre Dame when they need crucial stops late in the game. He joins ultra-quick PG Tory Jackson of Saginaw, MI and bruising PF Luke Harangody of Andrean, IN as the three members of the Irish recruiting class that will look to replace seniors Chris Quinn, Torin Francis and Rick Cornett.

The Irish still have three open scholarships available after the commitment by Peoples. With the open scholarships I still look for the Irish to continue to add athletic ability on the wing and in the post. Notre Dame is also a popular destination for transfers, but not for JUCO transfers, so it will be interesting to see what comes available later in the spring. The available talent is pretty thoroughly picked over and the Irish still have some holes to fill, but the 2006 class does seem to mix well with what Brey and the Irish landed in 2005. I would like to see one more impact post player that can battle at the rim in the Big East, but that is going to have to come in 2007 with what is available at this point.

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BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Notre Dame @ West Virginia

February 1, 2006

West Virginia finds themselves alone atop the Big East conference standings with an undefeated 6-0 mark in conference play. Nearly at the other end of the spectrum, Notre Dame continues to shuffle along with a 1-6 record in the Big East and finding life very tough this season with every loss in the conference coming by 6-pts or less.

Here are the stories from around the internet on tonight's game:

Irish Hope Stork Provides a Break With Early Arrival (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette)
Irish Ride Three Game Slide into WVU (Charleston Gazette)
Mountaineers Hope to End Irish Hex Tonight (Register-Herald)
Confidence Sky High for Gansey & Crew (South Bend Tribune)
How Have Irish Won at WVU? (South Bend Tribune)
Luck of the Irish? (MSNSportsNET)

For our preview and prediction on the game, click below!


The main downfall for the Irish this season in the Big East is their lack of athletic ability and the willingness to play physical inside against their Big East foes. Tonight, they find themselves matched up against another team that relies on skilled perimeter players making shots from beyond the arc with little in terms of inside power. However, nobody seems to be able to play the stle as well as West Virginia.

Maybe the match-up in style preference is the main reason for this series being heavily in the favor of Notre Dame. The Irish have been victorious in their last four trips to Morgantown under Mike Brey and the Irish have won the last 11 games in the series overall.

“Notre Dame is like looking into the mirror at us as far as the type of players that they have,” Beilein said. “They take care of the ball, they all can shoot it and they all can pass it".

So, why is one team 6-0 in the conference and the other 1-6? Beilein offers up an explanation, “They’re going through all these things that in every tight game the ball didn’t bounce their way. In three of four tight games we had, the ball bounced our way". The game that didn't bounce the Mountaineers way was their stunning loss last week to in-state rival Marshall. Also, WVU is the best in the Big East in league games for scoring margin (+9.2), assists (20.3), steals (9.6), turnover margin (+11.6) and assist/turnover ratio (+2.77) (South Bend Trib Article).

Again, tonight, there is a wildcard, and that is with the arrival of anyday of a little Pittsnogle. Kevin Pittsnogle's wife Heather is due to give birth to the couple's first child tomorrow, but if an early arrival happens, Pittsnogle might be in a delivery room, rather than delevering 3-pt bombs on the Irish.

Both teams have experience, but nobody is as experienced as the Mountaineers with 5 seniors, 1 junior and 1 sophomore comprising their 7-man rotation, led by Mike Gansey and Pittsnogle. The Irish have 3 seniors, 2 juniors, 1 sophomore and 2 freshmen in their rotation and are led by Chris Quinn, Torin Francis and Colin Falls.

The style of game should fit Notre Dame's strength's perfectly, but winning in a sold out Coliseum on the WVU campus is going to be one of the toughest things any team does this year. If there ever was a team outside the top two or three in this league that could do it, it might very well be Notre Dame. I expect ANOTHER close game for the Irish, will some of the bounces go their way? Will an early arrival by the stork keep Pittsnogle away? I am not so sure of that...but, this should be an very tight game and the 8-pt favored Mountaineers will be very glad to pull out a tight win.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

West Virginia 74 Notre Dame 71

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