Saturday, January 31, 2009


January 31, 2009

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish face their fifth straight ranked opponent on Saturday when they travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers in a Big East conference showdown. The Irish will look for better luck in this one as they have lost their previous four games and have slipped to 3-5 in the Big East.

Pittsburgh is coming off a loss of their own as the Panthers were beaten 67-57 at Villanova on Wednesday night, dropping Pitt to 6-2 in the Big East. Pitt was mired in foul trouble to several players, but the biggest one was DeJuan Blair being limited, much like their earlier loss at Louisville

Here are some pregame stories about the game:

Notre Dame’s Ayers in Slump, Along With Team (Chicago Tribune)
Brey: It is Time for Irish to Grow Up and Play (Courier Press)
Pitt’s Two Losses are Strikingly Similar (Post-Gazette)
Harangody Playing as Expected (Post Gazette)
Irish Enter Unfamiliar Territory (South Bend Tribune)
Ayers Remedies: Rest and Repitition (South Bend Tribune)

While Pitt’s two losses were very similar, it is unlikely to be the case that Notre Dame will be able to replicate the same defensive pressure that Louisville and Villanova are able to apply against opponents, especially on the road. The Irish are a team not know for their defense.

With their backs against the wall and desperate for a win after four losses, I expect the Irish defensive effort to be much improved, but in reality, it has not been their defense as much in their last two games as a struggling offense. Sure, Luke Harangody is still putting up monster numbers, over 25 points and 16 rebounds a game in their last four, but it is taking him a ton of shots to get those points while his teammates are all in a slump together.

Pittsburgh is not a team to face when your struggling offensively, especially from the perimeter where Jermaine Dixon is quickly becoming one of the most feared defenders in college basketball. Dixon will have the assignment of guarding Kyle McAlarney and as teams have found out lately, make Harangody work for his points, but accept he is going to get them, shut down McAlarney, and you should be in good shape.

For Pitt, they need to keep DeJuan Blair on the court. In the two losses, foul trouble limited his time on the court and saw Pitt give up double-digit first half leads once he was missing time because of fouls. With Blair on the bench, Pitt is not the same team and they give up more points, especially on the boards, and it allows the defense to set their pressure. While ND is unlikely to come with pressure, Blair’s ability to rebound and score is needed all game here.

Pitt is an 11 ½ -point favorite on their home floor. The Irish will be desperate, and I expect them to play tough on the defensive end, but the pressure of needing the win and the Pitt defense will continue to hold the Irish offense in check. Pitt wins comfortably, but maybe not quite with the ease expected with the line.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Pittsburgh 74
Notre Dame 66


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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


January 27, 2009

Marquette continued their run through the early portion of their Big East schedule with a victory at Notre Dame last night in ESPN's Big Monday telecast.

The Golden Eagles are a team Seasoned Right (Journal Sentinel) led by their senior guard trio. Last night, Jerel McNeal scored a team-high 27 points with Jerel McNeal added 16 and Dominic James contributed 15 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and helped direct an offense that turned the ball over just three times all game. Lazar Hayward closed the MU scored with 13 points (that is right, just four Golden Eagles scored) in the 71-64 victory.

Luke Harangody had 29 points and 17 rebounds for the Irish as Notre Dame Loses Second Straight at Home (nwitimes.com) after UConn broked their 45-game win streak at the Joyce Center on Saturday night. It was the fourth loss overall for ND, dropping them to 3-5 in the Big East as the Irish are Losing Grip on the Season (Journal Gazette) that began with so many expectations on the club.

There was talk of 'relief' that the pressure of the home streak had been lifted with the loss to UConn and a sense of a new beginning, but Notre Dame Suffers Must-Win Meltdown (Chicago Tribune) as their line-up shuffle failed to provide the spark and an Anemic Offense Leads to Fourth Staright ND Loss (Post-Tribune).

Jonathan Peoples and Luke Zeller were inserted into the starting line-up to replace slumping seniors Zach Hillesland and Ryan Ayers. The move failed to provide any sort of a 'spark' as Ayers-Hillesland combined to go 0-10 in the game and the Irish got zero bench points.

Tory Jackson had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists for the Irish, who will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Panthers on Saturday. At 12-7, with the date with Pitt and road games with Cincinnati and UCLA to follow immediately afterwards, the Irish Feel a 'Sense of Worry' (South Bend Tribune) about a season on the brink.


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Monday, January 26, 2009


January 26, 2009

Notre Dame is forced to rebound quickly following Saturday night's 69-61 home loss to Connecticut, a loss that snapped the Irish 45-game home winning streak. The last team to beat the Fighting Irish at the Joyce Center comes to town tonight as Marquette and ND hook up for a Big Monday battle.

More concerning to Irish coach Mike Brey than the end of a 45-game home winning streak is the current three-game losing steak the Irish find themselved mired in. Saturday night's loss knocked Notre Dame to 3-4 in Big East play.

Marquette has been rolling along in conference play, beating Depaul on Saturday to move to 6-0 in Big East play. The Golden Eagles will look to keep on rolling tonight and begin a home losing streak for ND.

Here are some pregame stories and previews from the internet today:

ND Off Course in Big East (South Bend Tribune)
No Longer a Matter of Record (Journal-Sentinel)
Line-up Shake-up Likely for Notre Dame (Chicago Tribune)
Notre Dame Looks to End Three-Game Losing Streak (Chicago Tribune)
Acker Raising Game, Elevating Profile Off of Bench (Journal-Sentinel)

This is a really important game for Notre Dame who will embark on a three-game road trip afterwards. With trip to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and UCLA to follow, the Irish need to right the ship quickly.

Teams seem to be content on letting Luke Harangody rack up some big numbers as they concentrate on stopping the rest of the Irish players. That scheme will fall right into the Golden Eagles' plan ss they do not have the muscle inside to slow Harangody, but their quick hands will try and make him work for his points. In the three-game losing streak, nobody is stopping Harangody from putting up his stats, nearly 26 points and 15 rebounds a game, but he has had to take 79 shots (over 26 a game) to get those numbers.

it is being proven that Tory Jackson and Kyle McAlarney make this team go. Harangody will get his, but their failure to replace Rob Kurz with a consistent third scoring option and another post player to take the pressure off of Harangody has made the Irish quite beatable. Add in the fact that their defense struggles and it is clear to see why ND is sliding.

Marquette is definitely not sliding, they are rising quickly up the basketball polls. The guard trio of Jerel McNeal, Wesley Mathews and Dominic James applies pressure on both ends of the court to opposing backcourts. Their defensive effort usually takes teams right out of their comfort zone and makes up for their lack of size by disrputing play on the perimeter.

Mathews and McNeal are having tremendous senior seasons offensively, both averaging 19 points a game, and continue to wreak havoc defensively. Junior forward Lazar Hayward has taken to his role as an undersized big forward, averaging over 16 points and nearly 9 rebounds a game.

The oddsmakers have made the Irish a 3 1/2 point favorite tonight. This game almost looks to be a toss up. Marquette seems to be the better team, but are they do for a loss? I am not convinced it comes tonight as Marquette has the personnell to make things difficult for McAlarney to find shots and for Jackson to get into the offense. Despite a zone defense from the Irish, Marquette will look to hit the seams with their quickness and also score in transition when the Irish get lax on defense, which happens all too often.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Marquette 75
Notre Dame 71


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Sunday, January 25, 2009


January 25, 2009

It is over. UConn Ends Notre Dame's Home Winning Streak at 45 Games (Chicago Tribune) with a 69-61 win in South Bend.

UConn Takes the Fight Out of the Irish (New Haven Register) other than Luke Harangody, and that was the key to winning. Harangody led Notre Dame with 24 points and 15 rebounds, but it took him 23 shots to get those 24 points and he was the only ND player to score in double figures.

Kyle McAlarney hit three early three's, but was shut out the rest of the way.


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Saturday, January 24, 2009


January 24, 2009

Notre Dame puts their nation’s best 45-game home win streak on the line Saturday night when Connecticut comes to town. The Irish have won 20 straight at home in Big East play and the Huskies will try to break both streaks in front of the ESPN ‘College Gameday’ crew.

Here are some pregame stories and previews on the game from around the internet:

Fightin’ Words (Journal Inquirer)
Circus Set to Descend on South Bend (TheDay.com)
Losing at Home Isn’t an Option for Notre Dame (Chicago Tribune)
Will Harangody be Ready for Thabeet? You Bet (South Bend Tribune)
Tough Talk from Fighting Irish (New Haven Register)
Joking Aside, Thabeet has to Walk the Walk (Norwich Bulletin)
Subplots Spice Up UConn-Irish (Waterbury Rep-Am)
Notre Dame Needs to Hear from Zach Hillesland (Chicago Tribune)
Irish are Decidedly Pro Joyce (Journal Inquirer)
Vitale Likes UConn’s Chances at Final Four (Hartford Courant)
Things are About to Heat Up in South Bend (TheDay.com)
Irish Hurt by Lack of Cohesiveness (Journal Gazette)

According to Hasheem Thabeet, UConn’s 7’3 center, Luke Harangody is not all that tough. Pretty interesting stuff to say about the 2007-2008 Big East Player of the Year, who is averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds a game as a junior this season.

Thabeet made that statement in the ESPN The Magazine’s preseason college basketball edition. He quickly fired off an apology to Notre Dame and claimed it was taken out of context in an attempt to be funny. Personally, I believe him and this is an incident that has gotten rekindled this week, but really is no big deal to the players and coaches involved. However, it will be a point of interest for the Notre Dame faithful who will likely be reminder Thabeet and Harangody all game long.

I guess Thabeet is forgetting the 32-point, 16-rebound performance Harangody had against UConn last season. Although, the first meeting last year between the two teams, won by ND, Harangody was just 5-23 from the floor as he was bothered by the size of the UConn frontline.

It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that Harangody is going to accrue big numbers in points and rebounds every time out. In his last three games, he has averaged 27.6 points and 15 rebounds a game, however his efficiency has taken a big hit. He is just 30-79 from the field in those three games. I imagine UConn will be more than happy to let Harangody get his 25 points if it takes him 25 shots, especially since it means Kyle McAlarney is not getting more attempts. In ND’s win over UConn last year, McAlarney went off for 32 points, hitting 13 of 19 (including 6 of 7 on three’s). In the loss, K-Mac was just 4-14 for 12 points.

The Huskies will need AJ Price to continue his revitalization and the big front line to make things difficult for Harangody to get his points. Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet seem like the perfect duo to do just that. Also, defensively, Jerome Dyson and Stanley Robinson need to keep McAlarney and Ryan Ayers from getting going on the perimeter.

Notre Dame is in the midst of a brutal stretch of games. The started this run out with a pair of losses, OT at Louisville and they were run out of the Carrier Dome by Syracuse. Now they host UConn on Saturday night and turnaround and have Marquette coming in on Monday. Following that they have a three-game road trip against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and leave the conference for a date with UCLA. Then, they return home to meet Louisville. Getting back into the win column is very important for the Irish, but it might be a very tough task against the streaking UConn Huskies. The Irish will have to prove it on the defensive side of the ball against the UConn club, something I am not sure they are willing to do and will see their home win streak stopped.

The latest NCAA basketball odds have UConn as a 2 1/2–point favorite on the road.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Connecticut 81
Notre Dame 77


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Thursday, January 22, 2009


The biggest challenge yet to the 45-game Notre Dame home winning streak could come this weekend when Connecticut comes into South Bend. The Irish Put 'Surprising' Streak on the Line (Post-Tribune) against the conference favorite who looks to be finding their stride with six straight wins after a conference-opening stumble.

The Irish will be extra primed for the affair with the ESPN Primetime audience of 'College Gameday' as well as the long-awaited match-up between Hasheem Thabeet and Luke Harangody following some brash preseason talk by the 7'3 Thabeet in a preseason ESPN The Magazine article where he refereed to the 2007-2008 Big East Player of the Year as 'not tough.' Immediately feeling bad for how the article came out, Thabeet Apologized to Harangody (NewsTimes) and to Irish coach Mike Brey. While the situated might be defused among the players and teams...expect the Irish fans to remember it well.

“We’re not going to do anything different with our routine just because it’s ‘College Gameday,’” Brey told reporters during this week's Big East coach's conference call.

While Brey and his team may not be doing anything different, the atmosphere likely will as ND is Channeling History (South Bend Tribune) to revive the atmosphere of the past that has brought some of the most remembered college upsets to the Joyce Center in the past.


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Saturday, January 17, 2009


January 17, 2009

After suffering their first loss in conference play on Wednesday night, the Syracuse Orange return to the comfy confines of the Carrier Dome were an anticipated crowd of more than 30,000 will brave frigid temperatures to be in the building as SU hosts Notre Dame at high noon on Saturday.

The Irish, in the midst of a brutal stretch of games with Connecticut, Marquette and Pittsburgh up next in succession before month’s end, are coming off an overtime loss at Louisville on Monday night. The loss knocked ND to 3-2 in Big East action, which both losses on the road.

Meet Irish’s Lethal Weapon (Post-Standard)
Rautins Earning Respect (Daily Times)
Notre Dame Must Improve Defensive Stands (Chicago Tribune)

Syracuse won their first four league games (again, against teams that are a combined 1-16 in conference play), but got their first taste of a conference contender Wednesday night and were thoroughly beaten by Georgetown. The Hoyas shot lights out and raced to a commanding 18-point halftime lead while the Orange got their feet under them.

Syracuse also received an injury scare against the Hoyas as Andy Rautins crumbled to the floor in pain during the first half, holding his knee, after getting tangled up for a loose ball. Rautins would not return in the game, but the immediate prognosis following the game was a bruised knee and he was likely to suit up and play against the Irish. Rautins missed all of last season because of a torn ACL from the summer of 2007.

“He’s got a slight strain or bruise but he’s walking,” SU coach Jim Boeheim told media members during Thursday’s league conference call. “He may be able to practice today [Thursday], he should be able to practice tomorrow [Friday]. We’re expecting unless something changes for him to be able to play.”

Against Louisville on Monday night, the Irish simply looked as though they ran out of gas and had nothing in the tank for overtime. Mike Brey’s club uses just seven players most nights and on Monday, six of them accounted for 223 of the 225 available minutes in the OT contest.

To win on the road, defense and rebounding are extremely important. The Irish struggle on the defensive end of the floor and the graduation of Rob Kurz has left a hole in their defensive and rebounding prowess. Against a Syracuse team that can score points and rebound, it will take a lights-out shooting effort by the Irish against the SU zone to steal a road win.

Luke Harangody will get his share of points and rebounds, like he always does. Expect the Syracuse big men of Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson to also produce on the inside for the Orange. The major question for the Irish is who will keep the SU backcourt from scoring. From Jonny Flynn to Eric Devendorf to Paul Harris and Andy Rautins, Syracuse will have offensive threats pressuring ND all game long. That is a tough match-up for the Irish.

The early college basketball betting lines have pegged SU as 3 ½-point favorites.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Syracuse 84
Notre Dame 75


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Monday, January 12, 2009


January 12, 2009

To nobody's surprise, Big Monday on ESPN features another big conference match-up as Notre Dame travels to Freedom Hall to face Louisville for a 7 PM tip.

Notre Dame extended their home win streak to 45 games over the weekend with a win over Seton Hall. The high-scoring Irish are averaging 79.5 points a game in their 3-1 conference start. They are in the midst of a brutal stretch of games with five of their next seven on the road beginning tonight at Louisville. A road trip to Syracuse is ahead this weekend and then after their home-win streak is challenged by UConn and Miami, it is back on the road to battle Pitt, Cincinnati and a non-conference match-up with UCLA.

Louisville has started conference play with a pair of road wins against South Florida and Villanova. The win against the Wildcats over the weekend was a thrilling victory as 'Nova missed several golden opportunities in the final seconds to win the game. Louisville had led throughout, but needed a driving basket by Terrence Williams with seven seconds left to regain the lead and then held on as the buzzer sounded for a 61-60 win.

Here are some pregame stories and previews from the web this morning:

Irish Need a Better Start Against Cards (South Bend Tribune)
Cards Dive Right back into Long Week (Louisville Courier-Journal)
Irish Face Tough Stretch (Journal Gazette)
Irish Men Hope Maturity Helps Through Tough Stretch (WNDU)
Tory Jackson Has Starring Role as ND's Jump-Starter (chicago Tribune)
Pitino Speaks and More Irish Notes (Chicago Tribune)
Kuric Earning his Cardinal Wings (Courier-Press)

Notre Dame remained on the heels of the league leaders with their 88-79 win over Seton Hall on Saturday. As usual, Luke Harangody pointed the way for the Irish with 30 points and 16 rebounds, which came on the heels of his Big Monday performance last week in a win over Georgetown of 31 points and 11 rebounds.

After a very up and down pre-conference slate, Louisville has opened thei Big East with back-to-back wins with Earl Clark being the catalyst. The 6-foot-9 junior has averaged 18 points and 9.5 rebounds in early conference action.

Last season these teams played a wild affair in Freedom Hall, won by Louisville 90-85. Louisville watched a 20+ point lead dwindle as Luke Harangody was raining down three's as part of his 'gody-like 40 point explosion. Departed senior David padgett led the Cards with 26 points...they have definitely missed him this season.

To win on the road in the Big East you need to rebound and defend. Notre Dame did not do those things against St. John's and the Redstorm made them pay in a 71-65 upset. Have the Irish learned their lesson? Defending the versatile and athletic Cards will be another test of the Irish mettle and show if this is a different team that scored a lot of points in the regular season, only to be bounced early in the NCAA's the last two seasons.

Louisville is a 6 1/2 point home favorite tonight. The Cards will have a very tough time slowing Harangody inside, but look for coach Pitino to sell out stopping the rest of the Irish and come up with the win.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Louisville 73
Notre Dame 65


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Saturday, January 10, 2009


January 10, 2009

Notre Dame extended their home court winning streak to 44 games on Monday with a win over Georgetown. They will look for win #45 in a row at the Joyce Center when Seton Hall comes to town on Saturday afternoon.

The Irish rebounded from a surprising loss to St. John’s last weekend and are now 2-1 in Big East play. The short-handed Pirates are 0-3 in the conference. They did show some life after blowout losses to SU and WVU to begin conference play by taking Villanova to overtime this week. We will see if they can get their first win in conference play on the Irish home court.

Here are some pregame stories and previews from the web this morning:

Notre Dame Works on Maintaining Intensity (Chicago Tribune)
ND At its Best on Edge (South Bend Tribune)
Irish Try to Avoid Pirate Overthrow (Journal Gazette)

Last year, Notre Dame blitzed Seton Hall on the road, this year they will look to do the same in South Bend. Luke Harangody should have an absolute field day in the paint and the Seton Hall tendency to give wide open shots from the perimeter bodes very well for Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers.

Seton Hall will score points, and the Irish defense is certainly susceptible to yielding points, but Tory Jackson matches up very well with Eugene Harvey and SHU’s penchant for pushing the pace falls into the hands of the preferred style of the Irish. Even with the college basketball lines pointing to the Irish as 14 ½-point favorites, it seems to be a number they will sail past.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Notre Dame 87
Seton Hall 71


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Monday, January 05, 2009


January 5, 2009

Notre Dame puts their 43-game hom ewin streak on the line tonight when they welcome in the Georgetown Hoyas to the Joyce Athletic Center for a key Big East early season showdown. Both teams are looking for a little pick-me-up following disappointing weekend efforts and avoid a two-game conference losing streak.

Here are the pre-game stories and previews found on the internet for tonight's game:

Pressure Building for Irish (Journal Gazette)
Irish Hope to Rebound Against Hoyas South Bend Tribune)
After a Tough Loss, Hoyas Must Regroup Quickly (Washington Post)
Hoyas, Irish Both Trying to Rebound (Washington Examiner)
Hoyas Look to Rebound (Washington Times)
Notre Dame Needs Kyle McAlarney to Regain his Shot (Chicago Tribune)
Failure to Rebound Causes Irish Loss (Journal Gazette)
Splinters, But Little Else coming off Hoyas Bench (Free Lance-Star)

The pressure to win your home games int he Big East is tremendous. That pressure will be doubled tonight for Notre Dame as the Irish look to extend their school-record 43-game home winning streak and avoid losing back-to-back games after a surprising defeat to St. John's at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

The area of concern for the Irish are defense and rebounding. Notre Dame seems to be trying to push the tempo in games to a free-flowing affair. Even in their win at Depaul to open conference play, the Blue Demons were scoring at will with Dar Tucker and Mac Koshwal, who literally are the only two consistent scoring threats the Blue Demons place on the floor. Tonight, their defense will be tested by a Hoya club that usually has up to five excellent scoring threats on the floor at a time!

Georgetown will look to rebound after they were bullied on their home court by Pittsburgh, 70-54 on Saturday. Pitt beat Georgetown on the glass mercifully, actually grabbing more of their own missed shots (20) than the Hoyas could (16) as they outrebounded Georgetown 48-23, wow!

Just five days after being the toast of the conference with their impressive road win over Connecticut to start Big East play, every perceived short-coming og the Hoyas was exposed by Pitt, from their lack of depth, phsyical size in the paint and overall inexperience.

The challenge John Thompson III will issue to his club is to be tougher. That is probably a challenge more easily to be answered by a team that can play defense and be effecient offensively like the Hoyas.

As for Notre Dame, the pressure is mounting and the loss to the Redstorm, along with the defensive questions make this a tough match-up. The Hoyas will look to slow the game down, neither team has a lot of depth, so the edge to the better defensive team looks to be apparent. Luke Harangody is likely to have a big game inside, but the Hoyas will work to close down opportunities for the other Irish players, especially Kyle McAlarney.

The latest college basketball odds have ND as a slight 2 1/2 point favorite. Could this be the night the home win streak is put to rest?

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Georgetown 71
Notre Dame 66


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Saturday, January 03, 2009


Notre Dame heads to Madison Square Garden to met St. John’s on Saturday afternoon. The Irish, despite two losses in their pre-conference schedule, have remained in the top 10 and are currently ranked #7 in the country.

The Irish opened Big East play with a 92-82 win at DePaul and will look to start off with back-to-back road wins ahead of Monday’s date with Georgetown at the Joyce Center. In their win over the Blue Demons, old reliable Luke Harangody dominated the paint with 26 points and 16 rebounds and senior Zach Hillesland added a career-best 17 points in the win.

St. John’s started fast on New Year’s Eve sprinting out to an 11-0 led on Providence in Rhode Island. However, the Redstorm turned into a pumpkin well before midnight as PC stormed back to bury SJU 75-54.

Sean Evans led SJU in their conference opener with 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Redstorm was without point guard Malik Boothe, out with an injury, and Justin Burrell has not found his comfort zone since returning to action wearing a mask due to facial fractures suffered earlier this season. SJU is already without Anthony Mason Jr, their leading scorer from a year ago, who will miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury suffered in the season’s second game.

Here are some of the pregame stories and previews found on the web:

Cool Hands Carried Irish (South Bend Tribune)

Native New Yorker Kyle McAlarney returns home for the contest and look for the outside half of the dangerous inside/outside duo of McAlarney and Harangody to have a big game. Once K-Mac hits a few shots to loosen the defense, Harangody will go to work inside and SJU has few answers for the Irish offense that can rack up the points.

The latest college basketball odds have the Irish as a 9 1/2-point road favorite. We would like to see St. John’s prove they can keep up with an offense as potent as the one they will see on Saturday.


Notre Dame 75
St. John’s 63


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