Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 23, 2015 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 97 of 113

MEN'S BASKETBALL sumé builders, given the otherwise relatively weak non‑conference sched‑ ule. The Irish face Indiana in a neutral‑ site game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis that will surely have a heavy Hoosiers crowd presence, and they also take on the Illini on the road. projects the two toughest games from this grouping to be at Miami Feb. 3, and at Syracuse Jan. 28. Pomeroy's system predicts only a 37 percent chance the Irish beat the Hurricanes on the road, but does give them a 42 percent chance against the Orange. Heavily favored games in‑ clude at home against North Carolina State (76 percent chance to win) and Louisville (69 percent). STEALS These are the games Notre Dame will have to win if it wants to break into that top tier of the conference fin‑ ish order. Winning any of these games would also carry heavy weight with the NCAA selection committee and help overcome any slipups in other games. ACC (2): At Virginia (30‑4 last sea‑ son) and at Duke (35‑4). The Irish will be fairly strong under‑ dogs in these contests, given not only that Virginia and Duke are projected to be better than Notre Dame this year, but they'll also be at home. As an example of how tough life can be on the road, Brey's squad took two of three matches against Duke last season — a 77‑73 home win Jan. 28 and the 74‑64 victory in the ACC Tournament semifinals March 13. But they got shellacked in the road game against the Blue Devils, 90‑60 Feb. 7.'s preseason rankings project only a 22 percent chance the Irish win at Virginia and an even lower 19 percent opportunity at Duke. SEASON PREDICTION The major storyline entering this year is how Notre Dame can over‑ come the losses of senior leaders Jer‑ ian Grant and Pat Connaughton after a historic season. The Irish still return plenty of tal‑ ent, though, starting with preseason first‑team All‑ACC guard Demetrius Jackson, now a junior in Brey's lineup. Senior forward Zach Auguste was voted to the league's preseason sec‑ ond team, and quality complementary players like junior guard Steve Vas‑ turia and junior forward V.J. Beachem surround the two preseason all‑league picks. That talent could take time to ad‑ just while Notre Dame shifts from last year's perimeter‑oriented lineup to uti‑ lizing two post players — sophomore forward Bonzie Colson and Auguste —on the floor at the same time. We predict Notre Dame to finish 13‑1 in "Must Haves," 8‑4 in "Bub‑ ble Games" and 1‑1 in its "Steals." The Irish will get at least two more games in the Advocare Invitational with the matchups still to be deter‑ mined following the outcome against Monmouth — we'll project a 1‑1 finish against the remainder of that field. That leaves a 23‑7 record entering postseason play, with the opportunity to win 25‑plus games, depending on postseason results. ✦

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