Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Big East Conference (23-11, 10-8)
Big Wins: 1/9 West Virginia (70-68), 2/27 at Georgetown (78-64), 3/11 vs Pittsburgh (50-45)
Bad Losses: 11/27 vs Northwestern (58-72), 12/12 Loyola Marymount (85-87), 1/30 at Rutgers (73-74)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, Second Round loss to Washington State
Coach: Mike Brey (5-7 in 7 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
There is no doubt that Luke Harangody is the star of this team, but he was just as good last year and the Fighting Irish still failed to reach the NCAA Tournament. The difference is the supporting cast and what makes this group so good is assists and turnovers. The high scoring Irish rank fifth in the nation in assists, third in assist to turnover ratio and eighth in turnovers per game.
Tory Jackson and Ben Hansbrough deserve most of the credit. Jackson is the main ballhandler for Notre Dame, but he can also use his speed to get to the basket and finish or find his teammates and Jackson is enough of a shooting threat to keep the defense honest. The addition of Hansbrough, a transfer from Mississippi State, has turned the Irish offense into more than just Harangody. Hansbrough is shooting 41.6 percent from beyond the arc and averaging 11.8 points per game. Yet, it is his 4.4 assists and just 1.8 turnovers per game that make him and Jackson such a dynamic duo on the perimeter.
Why They Can Disappoint:
What Notre Dame lacks is defense. Tim Abromaitis has emerged as a superb shooter and connects on 2.4 long ball per game. And at 6-8, he is difficult for anybody to defend. Abromaitis can also finish around the basket. The same can be said for fellow 6-8 forward Tyrone Nash. He is a decent scorer, although he lacks the shooting touch of Abromaitis, and both players are solid rebounders. The problem is nobody is a threat to block a shot. The opposition can safely attack the basket and nobody is there to stop them. Many times the guards have to come down and help against players driving to the basket. When that happens the opponents kick out to an open shooter on the perimeter and that is why the Irish allow the opposition to shoot 36.6 percent from beyond the arc, ranking 280th in the nation.
Who To Watch:
But no matter how bad the defense may be, the offense can win games on the shoulders of Luke Harangody. The 6-8 senior is still coming around after his injury, but he played in the Big East Conference and should be ready to start by the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 22.4 points and 9.2 rebounds during his senior season and has the ability to completely take over a game…at least on the offense end. Harangody has scored at least 13 points in every game prior to his injury, but he will be back to his double-double ways in the tournament. When Harangody goes off for 30 or more points, which happens quite often, it takes a lot of offense to beat Notre Dame.
Tory Jackson, Senior, Guard, 9.8 ppg, 5.3 apg
Ben Hansbrough, Senior, Guard, 11.8 ppg, 4.8 apg
Tim Abromaitis, Junior, Forward, 16.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg
Tyrone Nash, Junior, Forward, 8.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Luke Harangody, Senior, Forward, 22.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg
Jonathan Peoples, Senior, Guard, 3.5 ppg, 1.3 apg
Carleton Scott, Junior, Forward, 4.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.1 bpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.9 (27th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.6 (231, 12)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.4 (30, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.8 (206, 14)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (45, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.8 (12, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.1 (42, 3)
Rebound Margin: 4.0 (55, 5)
Assists Per Game: 17.2 (5, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.5 (8, 2)
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