Game Preview: Syracuse needs to bounce back vs. short-handed Notre Dame

Opponent: Notre Dame

Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY

Date: Saturday, January 6

Time: 3:15pm ET

TV: ESPN2 or stream on WatchESPN app

Line: Syracuse -5.5

Notre Dame’s season started on a high note and now it looks like an uphill battle

The Irish’s season started on a high note when they won the Maui Invitational championship in November. Notre Dame’s only good win this season has come against Wichita State (18 RPI) in the tournament’s championship game. They then followed it up by getting dominated on the road by Michigan State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The Irish lost by 18 and were outscored 46-26 in the first half. In December, Notre Dame picked up a couple losses against Ball State (92 RPI) and Indiana (143 RPI) and defeated a few mid-major and low-major level teams. The Irish started ACC play on a high note with a 9-point home win against Georgia Tech. Devastating news struck when the program announced on Tuesday that senior Bonzie Colson (pictured below) had fractured his left foot and would miss up to 8 weeks. Colson was named the 2017-18 ACC preseason player of the year and was a second team All-American last season. To make matters worse, senior guard Matt Farrell sprained his ankle in the first half of the Irish’s game on Wednesday against NC State and won’t make the trip to Syracuse on Saturday. Even with Colson out and without Farrell for much of the game, the Irish put together an inspired performance and beat NC State 88-58. Regardless, the Irish have a long road ahead without Colson for two months and without Farrell for at least the Syracuse game.

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Top Players

Without Colson and Farrell, the Irish are missing 45% of their scoring and 34% of their rebounding. Notre Dame will look to their supporting cast to step up in a big way. Sophomore guard TJ Gibbs (pictured below) averages 14.6 points per game and shoots 47% from three range. He scored 22 against NC State and will likely be the team’s go to scorer with Colson and Farrell out. It also looks like freshman guard DJ Harvey is ready to step up and carry part of the scoring load. He dropped 17 points on NC State, 11.1 points above his season average. In terms of rebounding, Martinas Geben, a 6’10” senior from Lithuania, will need to up his production from 6.9 rebounds per game to compensate for the loss of Colson’s 10.4 rebounds per game.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Notre Dame is a good scoring team averaging 81.7 points per game which ranks them 51st in the nation. They also shoot 40.1% from three-point range and Gibbs makes them at a 47.2% clip. Similar to Syracuse, they are one of the best defensive teams in the country. They only allow opponents an average of 65.1 points per game which is good for 39th in the nation. The Irish held Georgia Tech to 59 points and NC State to 58 points.

Before the injuries to Colson and Farrell, the Irish possessed few weaknesses. One area that the Irish should be worried about against the Orange is rebounding. They are 141st in the country in rebounding margin at +2.3. This should be an area that the Orange can exploit especially since Colson is out. Notre Dame didn’t have any issues scoring the ball last night against NC State but it wouldn’t be surprising if the Irish go cold on the offensive end for a stretch or two without their two leading scorers.

Head Coach 

Notre Dame is led by head coach Mike Brey (pictured below). Brey is in his 18th year at Notre Dame and he just surpassed Digger Phelps for the most wins in program history on Wednesday night with 394. He is 394-190 during his Irish tenure and has taken the program to 3 Sweet Sixteens and 2 Elite Eights.

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Syracuse vs. Notre Dame All-Time Series

Syracuse holds a 28-20 all-time record against the Irish. The Orange held a 22-8 advantage while both teams played in the Big East and Syracuse holds a 3-1 advantage since the teams moved to the ACC. Notre Dame won the match up last year at Purcell Pavilion 84-66 snapping the Orange’s 4 game win streak over the Irish from 2013-2016. Here are the highlights from last year’s game:

 

Brey is 7-16 against Syracuse and Jim Boeheim is 26-13 vs. the Irish.

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Prediction

Syracuse wins 70-69 behind a bounce back performance from Tyus Battle

Dennis DuVal Jersey Retirement 

Dennis DuVal (pictured below) will have his #22 jersey retired at the game. DuVal, a guard, played at Syracuse from 1971-1974 and scored 1,504 points in his career, the 21st most in program history. He is also 2nd all-time at Syracuse in field goals made in a game with 18. DuVal was named 3rd team All-America his senior year and the Washington Bullets drafted him the second round of the NBA draft. He played 2 years in the NBA, 1 for the Bullets and 1 for the Atlanta Hawks.

DuVal’s jersey will be the 13th jersey retired by the Syracuse men’s team.

DennisDuval
Dennis DuVal                  photo courtesy of Orangehoops

Quick Hits

Notre Dame’s RPI rank is 64 while Syracuse ranks 25

Dennis DuVal will have his #22 jersey retired at the game. DuVal, a guard, played at Syracuse from 1971-1974 and scored 1,504 points in his career. He was named 3rd team All-America his senior year and the Washington Bullets drafted him the second round of the NBA draft. He played 2 years in the NBA, 1 for the Bullets and 1 for the Atlanta Hawks.

Oshae Brissett and Howard Washington attended the same high school as Notre Dame sophomore Nikola Djogo – Athlete Institute Prep in Ontario. Brissett and Washington played for Athlete Institute one year after Djogo did.

oshae howard
Oshae Brissett (top left) and Howard Washington (top right)

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