Tuesday, January 30, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Notre Dame @ Syracuse

January 30, 2007

Syracuse, 4-3 in the Big East conference, return home to the Carrier Dome tonight looking to snap a two-game losing strak tonight when they host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a Big East Conference match-up. The Irish are 5-3 in Big East play, but are still looking for their first conference road win.

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

No Friendship for 40 Minutes During Notre Dame Game Tonight (South Bend Tribune)
This Year's Irish Hustle Their Way to Wins (Post-Standard)
Which SU Team Will Show Up to Host Irish (AP Story in Rochester D&C)
Irish Take on Desperate Orange (Journal Gazette)
Headstrong or Pigheaded, carter Paces Irish (NY Times)

Click below for our brief preview and prediction on this game and don't forget to leave your prediction in the comments section.


Syracuse enters the game as a 3-pt favorite, however, the Pomeroy Computer rankings are predicting the Irish as one-point winners tonight. Syracuse is coming off a very disappointing loss on Saturday night at Louisville. The Orange led 65-51 with 9:44 left in the contest but saw Louisville outscore SU 25-6 to finish the game, limiting SU to one field goal in that span and score nine 2nd chance points. The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for Syracuse as it was their second loss in a row on the road, following up on the heels of a loss at St. John's, another one they had a lead late only to lose.

Notre Dame found the opposite fate with their game on Saturday as the Irish rallied from a seven-point defecit in the last eight minutes to beat Villanova, 66-63, at home. Colin Falls scored 10 of his 23 points in the final six minutes to lead the rally for the Irish, who are 5-3 in the conference, but are still looking for their first road win of the season.

After their meltdown against Louisville, Syracuse should be plenty fired up for this game. With a large crowd expected at the 'Loud House', Syracuse is going to need to play a full 40 minutes with consistent efforts on the boards and the defensive end. All too often, this Syracuse team seems to be holding together by a string that stretches to its limit and they suffer defensive breakdowns, long stretches of no rebounding and some mind-boggling decisions with the basketball. They can not afford to be careless tonight against Notre Dame, a team that will hustle and play together to try and steal a win on the road.

Eadch side has some match-up advantages that could be taken advantage of. With Syracuse a little more desperate for a win, I could see them trying to use their press a little more often to try and rattle the young freshmen point guard duo of Tory Jackson and Jonathan Peoples. Syracuse's depth is not a strength, so only certain line-up combinations would be useful with a press, but the Orange should be able to take advantage of some length and athleticism and force the Irish into uncomfortable situations if they look to take advantage of an edge they have.

On the Irish side, they will probably be very happy to see Syracuse sit in their normal 2-3 zone. This allows Colin Falls to get comfortable and find seems to set-up and launch from beyond the arc. The Irish are an outstanding passing club, especially with Rob Kurz at the PF position and getting the ball to him against the zone will likely open up his passing to Luke Harangody down low, to Russel Carter slashing to the basket and kick-outs to Falls.

This is a big game for both clubs. The Orange should be focused solely on winning after the tough defeat to Louisville and staying above the bottleneck that has become the middle of the conference should be their most imeediate goal when taking care of business at home. Notre Dame will hope to hang around long enough and then make the hustle plays and a few shots down the stretch and hope Syracuse will self-destruct againt.

With ND's poor road record, I think this will be a solid win for the Orange at home. Notre Dame definitely poses some match-up isues, but overall, this is a game the Orange should and must have

NBE Blogger Prediction: Syracuse 77 Notre Dame 68

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Friday, January 26, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Villanova @ Notre Dame

January 27, 2007

Villanova and Notre Dame meet for the second time in 10 days when they convene on the Notre Dame campus on Saturday for a Big East conference match-up. Villanova hosted Notre Dame on January 17th and entering the game the Wildcats were just 1-3 in the conference and were in desperate need of a win. Since their 102-87 win over the Irish, the Wildcats have also taken care of Texas and Providence and are suddenly one of the hottest teams around. The road woes have continued for the Irish since their loss to Villanova, dropping a 71-68 decision at St. John's in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. The Irish do remain undefeated at home, 14-0, on the season, but this will be their biggest test at home since opening conference play.

Click below for our brief preview and prediction on this game and don't forget to leave your prediction in the comments section.


It has not been a good week for the Irish. Late Monday as the team was arriving in New York City for Tuesday's match-up with St. John's, it was learned that their sophomore point guard Kyle McAlarney would not be available for them this season as he was suspended from the University after his late December arrest for marijuana possession. Then, on Tuesday, the Irish were beaten by the Red Storm on a 3-pt shot in the last 10 seconds by freshman Larry Wright of the Redstorm. The Irish are going to have to pick up the pieces as they head back home and get back on track.

Where this game is on the schedule for the Irish also makes it one of utmost importance. With a three-game road stretch following this game with trips to Syracuse, South Florida and DePaul, the Irish will need a shot of confidence to conquer their road woes. However, Villanova is a tough match-up for them as they are a team that shoots as well from the arc and has the ability to pressure the young Irish point guards into turnovers and into a quicker pace than they might be looking to play.

One thing that might fall squarely into Notre Dame's favor is the health of Curtis Sumpter. The 5th year Villanova senior who missed all of last season with a knee injury missed the VU win over Texas and was limited in their win over Providence because of a nagging muscle pull in his leg. Reggie Redding took a lot of his minutes against Providence and would be called on again to match-up with Irish leading scorer Russell Carter, who scored 32 of ND's 68 points at St. John's.

The Irish will look to use Rob Kurz and Luke Harangody inside to open up a lane for Carter and Colin Falls to shoot. However, the Wildcats will counter with Will Sheridan and Dante Cunningham concentrating on rebounding and defense inside. Mike Nardi and Scottie Reynolds picked up the offensive slack for Sumpter against Providence and should fare well against Notre Dame.

The Pomeroy computer likes Notre Dame by 5 in this one. It should be a tight game. I think the Irish have been playing a bit over their heads throughout the season and Villanova seems to be coming on strong. If Sumpter was healthy, I would have no reservations about siding with the Wildcats, still, I think they have just enough depth and a little more well-rounded in the backcourt to get this done on the road.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Villanova 78 Notre Dame 74

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Notre Dame @ St. John's

January 23, 2007

Notre Dame hits the road tonight and heads East to New York City to face the St. John's Redstorm. The Redstorm were nearly left for dead last week, but their stirring upset victory over Syracuse has re-energized Norm Roberts' team. They have won two games in the conference, both at Madison Square Garden, and will look to make it #3 tonight. Notre Dame is 4-2 in the conference this year, good enough to be in a tie for 2nd place with Marquette, Syracuse and Louisville, but they have yet to win a game on the road in the conference, losing so far to Georgetown and Villanova in games they fell behind early and lost by at least 15 points each.

Irish Need Fast Start in NYC (South Bend Tribune)
Things Bouncing SJU's Way (NY Daily News)
Storm Wary of a Letdown (NY Post)
Irish Seek Comfort on Enemy Turf (Chicago Tribune)

Both teams will look to get out of the gate fast. Notre Dame will look to avoid digging an early hole, like they did against both Villanova and Georgetown, and St. John's will look to build more confidence by getting off to a quick start, like they did against Syracuse on Sunday, racing to a 13-2 lead out of the gate.

The Redstorm has been quite an enigma this year. Expected to show overall improvement, the St. John's offense has been downright offensive at times. They score very little in the paint and their perimeter shooting continues to me more cold than hot. Avery Patterson was supposed to give them a lift from the perimeter, but he has struggled shooting the ball at just 31% in Big East play (19-61) from the floor and 33% from beyond the arc (13-39) which most of the production coming against DePaul (5-9 from 3-pt range) and in a key 7-pt burst in 30 seconds late in their win over Syracuse. The Redstorm will need him to hit from the outside as it gives more room to their gang of slashers to attack the basket. Anthony Mason and Eugene Lawrence can also connect from long range, but it is not really their strength. Inside, they will need Lamont Hamilton to put pressure on the Notre Dame frontline with his ability to score and Aaron Spears needs to give them good minutes against Luke Harangody inside.

St. John's s not always very pretty on the offensive end, but they can play defense and tend to work very hard on that end of the floor. The young point guard tandem for the Irish, Tory Jackson and Jonathan Peoples, will have to take care of the ball against the physical Lawrence and ultra-quick Larry Wright and Daryll Hill (not the threat he used to be). On the wings Russell Carter will attack the basket and keep you honest while knocking in shots from deep and Colin Falls is still there to be accounted for because of his 3-pt marksmenship. Inside is where I see the biggest advantage for the Irish as Rob Kurz and Harangody will always give a consistent and smart effort in the post. Kurz is an excellent passer and rebounder who can step away and make you pay. The Irish can also come with Luke Zeller and Zack Hillesland to shake it up.

The Irish have gotten use to playing without sophomore Kyle McAlarney, a NY Native, but th enews that he has been expelled from Notre Dame ends any hope of him returning this season. Not sure if the final decision will cause any distraction to the team.

The Irish are a 5-pt favorite according to the oddsmakers. I think St. John's brings another solid effort, but in the end, too much shooting from Falls and inside play will get the Irish over the hump for their first conference road win, but it will not be easy!

NBE Blogger Prediction: Notre Dame 65 St. John's 62

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Notre Dame @ Villanova

January 17, 2007

Villanova has some work to do after a 1-3 start in the Big East and will look to get back on the right track tonight when they host the surprising Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Irish did not fair too well in their lone conference road trip, a 66-48 loss at Georgetown, so the Irish will look to reverse that trend tonight.

Here are the pre-game stories and previews from the internet:

Irish Face a Different Villanova (Chicago Tribune)
Irish Face Wildcats in their Own Zoo (south Bend Tribune)
Irish Trip to Pavilion a Chance for New Memories (Journal Gazette)
Paulsbonor's Carter Leads Surging Notre Dame (Courier Post)
Russell Carter: Captain of ND's Destiny (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Irish's Kurz finds Hard Work Key to Success

Click below for our brief preview and prediction on this game and don't forget to leave your prediction in the comments section.


It is just the fifth conference game for the Wildcats tonight, but it is hard to believe that this is not one they must have when they host Notre Dame at the Pavilion tonight in a game shown on ESPNU. Villanova is coming off a disappointing loss to Syracuse at the Dome on Saturday and is still trying to find their footing this season. Senior Curtis Sumpter is back and healthy leading the way, but he has not been getting consistent help from their frontcourt, mostly because the Villanova attack is still perimeter orientated and without Kyle Lowry, Randy Foye and Allan Ray, it is not nearly as effective. Shane Clark, Dante Cunningham and Will Sheridan have all had their moments, but the Villanova game plan has not concentrated on them consistently. Senior Mike Nardi and freshman Scotty Reynolds are both dead-eye shooters, but Villanova is too dependent on having them be 'on' to win. The only exception was in their victory at Georgetown when their 3/4-court and full court pressure forced Georgetown completely out of their comfort zone offensively, they will probably unleash a similar defensive gameplan tonight.

Notre Dame has started out with three of their first four conference games at home and did exactly what they needed to do, win them. The Irish have held serve against Louisville, West Virginia and Seton Hall, their only conference blemish, a road disaster against Georgetown. Villanova will bring a similar defensive ability with some athletic and long frontcourt players and will look to trap and pressure the Irish ballhandlers. At this point, freshmen Tory Jackson and Jonathan Peoples are their main ballhandlers while Kyle McAlarney remains suspended. This is a match-up that Villanova will like to exploit and test the youngsters ability to control tempo when being pressured. With Luke Harangody and Rob Kurz, the Irish frontcourt is more effecient than their counterparts from Villanova, but the Wildcats' group will pose a big challenge with thier efforts on the defensive end and the boards. This is a nice match-up to watch develop throughout the game.

I look for a big effort defensively tonight from Villanova. The Irish can shoot the ball and some 3's from Falls and athletic plays by Russell Carter will keep them in it, but Curtis Sumpter is the best player on both teams and playing in the cozy Pavilion should put the Villanova perimeter shooters in their comfort zone.

Villanova is forecasted as a 1-pt winner by Pomeroy and a 3-pt favorite by the oddsmakers.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Villanova 67 Notre Dame 61

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: West Virginia @ Notre Dame

January 9, 2007

We are only 15 games into the Big East conference season and 13 teams have already been dealt at least one loss. Tonight, West Virginia puts their 3-0 start on the line when they travel to South Bend to face Notre Dame for their first conference road game. With the way things are going in this conference so far, you might as well flip a coin when making a prediction...

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

To Score, Irish Will Have to Zone In (Chicago Tribune)
WVU Facing Big Task Tonight at Notre Dame (Bluefield Daily Telegram)
Irish Look to Regroup Against Mountaineers (Journal Gazette)
WVU Visits Notre Dame Tonight in Big East Tilt (Register-Herlad)
No Ordinary Joe (The Journal)
WVU Hits Jackpot with 'D' (Daily Mail)
Irish Search for What Went Wrong (South Bend Tribune)
Irish Aim to Forget Last Season (Charleston Gazette)
'Neers Can't Be Knocked off Peak (South Bend Tribune)

Click below for our brief preview and prediction on this game and don't forget to leave your prediction in the comments section.


The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were riding high on a 12-game winning streak, but that can screeching to a halt Saturday when the Irish were throttled, 66-48, at Georgetown. The Hoyas were second in the league in scoring defense entering the game and held Notre Dame to nearly 40 points below their season average. Tonight, the Irish return home and face the only team in the Big East with a stingier defense, the West Virginia Mountaineers.

We are only beginning the 2nd week of conference play and there are only three Big East teams without a conference loss: Pittsburgh, Providence and West Virginia. The Mountaineers have raced out of the game winning three conference games, all at home, and now their young squad takes to the road for the first time in a month to face the Irish. The Mountaineers have been firing on all cylinders, out-scoring Big East opponents 74-58 and getting 19.7 PPG from senior Frank Young in conference play. Their 1-3-1 zone continues to confuse opponents as Connecticut, Villanova and St. John's combined to turn the ball over 50 times in the three league games against just 28 assists while the fluid WVU offense has been credited with 52 assists. The Mountaineers are turning the ball over a little more this year than their teams of the previous two years, but they remain as dangerous as ever behind the arc.

Notre Dame has also been a surprise team in the conference this season. They rolled through their out of conference schedule cranking up the offense, averaging 92 PPG in their last nine OOC games, never scoring less than 81. However, the Irish are forced to go with a freshman point guard in Tory Jackson with the indefinite suspension of sophomore Kyle McAlarney for his arrest the early morning hours before their game with Stony Brook for possession of a controlled substance. That inexperienced floor leader was exploited against the Georgetown scheme and it will again be the main target of West Virginia's attack when they trap the smaller Jackson on the perimeter with the size of Joe Alexander and quick hands of Darris Nichols.

The Irish will have to make the WVU zone pay by finding Colin Falls in open areas to score and use the passing ability inside of Rob Kurz and the hands and touch of Luke Harangody to finish in close. The athletic Russell Carter will have to pick his spots and finish near the rim against WVU.

The Mountaineers will have to bury their open looks. It will be tougher playing out of their comfort zone on the road, for the first time in a meaningful setting, so we will see if their shooting touch remains hot. I really like what this WVU team is brining to the table, but in their first league road game, I think this ends up being a great learning experience and will make them better.

The Irish enter the game as 4-pt favorites and the Pomeroy Ratings project the Mountaineers as 1-pt winners. That is a pretty healthy gap, but the pomeroy computer does not take into account the lack of road experience of the Mountaineers, which I think is just enough of an edge for the home team for them to sneak one out. I expect this game to be much easier to watch than the Big Monday showcase the Big East put on last night, and be another close game in the conference.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Notre Dame 72 West Virginia 69

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Friday, January 05, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Notre Dame @ Georgetown

January 6, 2007

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish put their 12-game winning streak on the line in their first true road game of the season. The Irish have gone 2-1 away from home, losing to Butler in Indianapolis (where they also beat Lafayette in the pre-season NIT) and a solid win over Maryland on earlier this season in Washington. Now they return to the site of that victory to meet an eager Georgetown team ready to erase some of the questions about their highly touted preseason squad.

The Hoyas received some surprising bad news this week when it was announced that sophomore guard/forward Marc Egerson had withdrawn from school. Egerson was a valuable player in the 6th man role for the Hoyas that added solid all-around play. Losing him, along with Josh Thornton earlier in the season makes the Hoyas' backcourt depth somewhat suspect, and that was the main question for Georgetown heading into the season.

Georgetown has been playing better of late, winning six in a row after stumbling twice against Oregon (at home) and at Duke. Earlier in the season they also dropped a game on campus in McDonough Gymnasium to Old Dominion, so the Hoyas are eager to put behind them the memory of a less than thrilling pre-conference schedule, which ended on a positive note, a win at Michigan prior to the announcement about Egerson.

Things have certainly been cheery around Notre Dame. Even the arrest of starting point guard and subsequent suspension of Kyle McAlarney has not been able to slow down the Irish as they rolled over Stony Brook and Louisville in their Big East opener. Freshman Tory Jackson becomes the man on the spot, but the Irish have also become essentially a 7-man rotation with Ryan Ayers seeing some time as the 8th man. With Russell Carter, Colin Falls and Rob Kurz, the Irish are paced by three upperclassmen that have been very consistent in their leadership and production. Freshman Luke Harangody joins Jackson as the newcomers that have made the biggest impact and have also brought added perimeter quickness (Jackson) and interior toughness (Harangody) to the Irish. The team is clicking very well together and, along with West Virginia and Providence, have been one of the surprise teams of the conference that is very fun to watch in how well they play together.

With the loss of Egerson, Patrick Ewing JR and Tyler Crawford become key players off the bench trying to fill his shoes in scoring and rebounding. The Hoya frontline will have a size advantage with Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green and DaJuan Summers and they also bring Vernon Macklin off the bench. Georgetown will look to control the tempo and make Notre Dame play defense for the full 35 seconds on most possessions and use a variety of defenses to slow the ND offensive attack that has been clicking all season.

Playing the John Thompson III match-up zone is tough for even the most experienced point guard, seeing how Jackson handles it in his first extensive test on the road is the key to the game in my opinion. I think Georgetown wins the battle inside and has enough pressure on defense to keep Colin Falls from getting hot from 3-pt range.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Georgetown 67 Notre Dame 61

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Louisville @ Notre Dame

January 3, 2006

One of the more interestinggames of the first week pits the Louisville Cardinals and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Heading into conference play, the resume of each team almost sounds reversed as the Cards are fighting injuries and inconsistent play while the Irish have come together and over-whelmed the majority of their opponents with a barrage of offense. Here are the pregame articles from newspapers around the internet:

Are Cards ready for Big East Play? (News-Sentinel)
Cards Brace for Irish 'O' (south Bend Tribune)
U of L Opens Big East Play at Notre Dame (Kentucky.com)
Jenkins, Cards Hope to Have Shot Tonight (Louisville Courier-Journal)

This game has added additional intrigue with Kyle McAlarney being out after being charged with marijuana possession after a routine traffic stop early Saturday morning and with Juan Palacios being listed as 'doubtful' for Louisville due to back/wrist ailments. Both are key players to their team's hope for success this season, we will soon see how big of a loss each player is.

It has been nothing short of a special run by Notre Dame through their pre-conference schedule. The Irish have drubbed opponents that have given them trouble in the past and found the strength to close out Maryland and Alabama when the games got tight down the stretch. When it seemed like everything was going right, the news on McAlarney hit them right in the face. In his place, it is expected that freshman Tory Jackson will have to take the majority of minutes on the ball for Notre Dame. Jackson enters tonight's contest averaging 16.6 minutes a game with 4.8 PPG and an assist to turnover ratio of slightly better than 1:1. His 17% 3-pt shooting percentage and 52% free throw percentage are both big drop-offs compared to McAlarney (46% and 82%) and areas to watch as the Notre Dame offense has been built around the effeciency that McAlarney provided with the ball (2.5:1 assist to turnover ratio). Notre Dame does have the personnell to pick up the slack with seniors Russell Carter (17.8 PPG) and Colin Falls (14 PPG) on the wings and an inside duo of Rob Kurz (16 PPG and 9 rebounds) and freshman Luke Harangody (12 PPG and 6 rebounds in just 18 minutes a game). The Irish play well together and know their roles, key points in games this early.

Louisville looks to be the polar opposite thus far. Suffering through a series of injuries once again and off-season defections, the Louisville line-up has been in a state of flux and looks to be changing again with the injuries to Palacios. The Cards have had 12 different players start as David padgett, Brandon Jenkins and Adnre McGee have battled injuries and Derrick Caracter has battled maturity issues. The Cards have gone young of late with Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith and Earl Clark getting more and more time. Terrence Williams is their leading scorer at 12 PPG, but he has been brick-city (and continues to let them fly) from beyond the arc shooting a woeful 17% on 69 attempts. Williams also leads the team in rebounds (7.6/game) and assists (4/game), so the offense seems to be going through him. The only other players averaging in double-digits are Sosa (11 PPG) and Palacios (10 PPG). If palacios is unable to go, Caracter could be pressed into action and his vulnerability to fouls could be exploited quickly by Kurz. The inconsistent Cards will have their hands full against the effecient Irish.

The current vegas line shows Notre Dame as 9-pt favorites and Pomeroy has the Irish as 14-pt winners. We are not sold on Louisville, especially on the road, until they can get healthy and playing together much better.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Notre Dame 75 Louisville 65

What do you think?

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