Preview & Prediction: By Raphielle Johnson
The first semifinal in the Maui Invitational matches up a pair of undefeated Top 10 teams in Notre Dame (3-0) and Texas (3-0). The Fighting Irish, picked to finish fourth in the loaded Big East, beat in-state rival Indiana like they stole something on Monday afternoon (88-50). This is a balanced offensive team that can absolutely kill you either inside with Big East Player of the Year Luke Harangody or outside with sharpshooter Kyle McAlarney. But those aren’t the only two weapons at head coach Mike Brey’s disposal, with solid point guard Tory Jackson running the show and a couple of bigs in Zach Hillesland and Luke Zeller who can also step outside and knock down perimeter shots. The question for Notre Dame regards their commitment to the defensive end of the floor, and even though Indiana isn’t expected to do much this season you have to give Notre Dame credit for holding the Hoosiers to 39.6% from the field (1-12 from three).
The Longhorns were even more impressive on the defensive end of the floor in their 68-50 win over St. Joseph’s. The Hawks shot an ice-cold 29.3% from the field (4-21 from distance) for the game, and also turned the ball over eighteen times. The man who came through for Rick Barnes off the bench in the win was forward Gary Johnson, who went for fourteen points and ten rebounds in twenty-three minutes off the bench. A.J. Abrams led the Longhorns with seventeen points, but it will have to be more than just him on that end of the floor if they’re to hang with Notre Dame. Can Texas bring the same level of play on the defensive end of the floor against the Irish? Can Notre Dame’s big men outside of Harangody rebound with the Longhorns? Those are the keys to this game, but look for Notre Dame to have the answers.
Winner: Notre Dame Margin: 5-9 pts.
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About Raphielle Johnson
College sports has always been a source of excitement for Raphielle Johnson, be it through watching, writing, or taking a shot in the dark and walking onto a college football team just to live the life (Arizona Football, 2001). Raphielle is the assistant editor, providing his own work in addition to helping out with the site operations. When not writing for CHN, you can usually find him in front of a television set watching one of many pay-per-view sports packages that he owns. He can be followed at twitter.com/raphiellej.
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