The independent voice of Notre Dame Football and other Sports


  • ND’s Postseason Journey Begins

    by Kevin O'Neill

    After two days of watching, it’s time to start playing.  The Fighting Irish will begin their pursuit of a Big East Tournament championship on Thursday at 7:00 PM against Cincinnati.  The Bearcats advanced to the quarterfinal game by defeating USF 87-61 on Wednesday.  ND had a double bye to the quarters thanks to its second place finish.

    Cincinnati patiently and methodically dismantled USF.  They worked the ball to the post and got Yancey Gates high percentage opportunities, and gates scored 25 points by converting 10 of 11 shots from the field and getting to the free throw line to make 5 of 8 attempts.  Dion Dixon also excelled with 21 points that included 8 points on 9 trips to the line.  UC beat a pretty good rebounding team on the boards by 8, 32-24.

    Notre Dame awaits the Bearcats.

    What you need to know about Cincinnati

    • #13 scoring offense in the Big East, 64.8 ppg
    • #2 scoring defense in the Big East, 61.7 ppg
    • #13 free throw percentage in the Big East, 67.1%
    • #10 field goal percentage in the Bg East, 42.3%
    • #10 field goal percentage defense in the Big East, 43.1%
    • #12 three-point percentage in the Big East, 32.1% (tied with Connecticut)
    • #5 rebounding margin in the Big East, +2.1
    • #11 assists per game in the Big East, 13.3
    • #4 turnover margin in the Big East, +1.8
    • #8 assists/turnover ratio in the Big East, 1.1 (6 teams tied)

    The team name is the Bearcats, but it ought to be the cockroaches; and I mean that with the utmost respect… UC is ugly but really hard to kill.  Their defensive stats don’t overwhelm.  They don’t shoot particularly well.  They don’t score a lot.  They don’t even have one of the conference’s top 30 scorers.  Yet there they are, 25-7 overall, 11-7 and in the top half of the toughest conference in the country, and in a position to enjoy the NCAA Tournament selection broadcast without worrying that they’ll be included.  Any team that fails to respect Cincinnati will regret it.

    6’9″ junior center Yancey Gates is Cincinnati’s leading scorer with 10.6 points per game.  Freshman guard Sean Kilpatrick, who improved steadily throughout his first season, is second with 10.2 points off the bench.  Gates is the top rebounder with 6.9 per game.

    Nine Bearcats average double digit minutes, but none of them plays more than 27 minutes per game; so they feel no need to pace themselves.  They start their defense in the backcourt and keep pressure on the ball at all times.

    What you need to know about Notre Dame

    • #3 scoring offense in the Big East, 71.7 ppg
    • #9 scoring defense in the Big East, 66.9 ppg
    • #6 free throw percentage in the Big East, 71.0%
    • #2 field goal percentage in the Big East, 46.8%
    • #9 field goal percentage defense in the Big East, 42.9%
    • #1 three-point percentage in the Big East, 40.4%
    • #6 rebounding margin in the Big East, +1.7
    • #4 assists per game in the Big East, 15.3 per game (tied with Syracuse)
    • #12 turnover margin in the Big East, -0.8
    • #1 assist/turnover ratio in the Big East, 1.4

    Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough led the Irish with a 20.3 point scoring average, third in the Big East.  He added 4.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 43% three point shooting, and 58% shooting inside the arc, a very good percentage for a power forward and a remarkable percentage for a guard.

    Tim Abromaitis (14.7 points), Carleton Scott (10.2), Scott Martin (9.4), and Ty Nash (9.3) complete the starting lineup as well as most of the team’s scoring.  Scott is the team’s leading rebounder with 7.4 per game, fifth in the conference. Abromaitis’ 47.3% shooting beyond the arc is second in the conference.  Jack Cooley brings bulk, toughness, and occasional scoring outbursts off the bench, and Eric Atkins’ 2.7 assist/turnover ratio is tops in the Big East.

    The Matchup

    When these two teams played in January, Notre Dame had lost consecutive games at Marquette and at St. John’s; and neither game was close.  MU and SJU successfully extended their defense and pressured the ball against ND, disrupting the offensive flow.  Cincinnati did more of the same, but the Irish had been practicing 5 on 6 to counter the tactic. All five Notre Dame starters scored between 11 and 13 points, and the Irish won 66-58.

    Both teams play deliberate halfcourt offense and are willing to go deep into the 35-second clock to get a good shot.   Expect a game in the 60s.  The #5 and #6 teams in Big East rebounding will wage war on the boards, so expect a lot of contact after missed shots.  Notre Dame’s big advantage is shooting.  If ND hits a decent percentage of its open shots, it will win; so watch to see how well ND does when UC pressures the ball on the perimeter.

    Game Information

    • #4 Notre Dame (25-5/14-4) vs #25 Cincinnati (25-7/11-7)
    • Thursday, March 10th at 7:00PM (ET)
    • Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
    • Television: ESPN
    • Internet: ESPN3.com

    If Notre Dame Wins

    If the Irish win, they will play the winner of the Louisville – Marquette.  Here is a snapshot of the potential opponents.

    Louisville

    • #5 scoring offense in the Big East, 70.2 ppg
    • #6 scoring defense in the Big East, 65.7 ppg
    • #11 free throw percentage in the Big East, 67.5%
    • #8 field goal percentage in the Bg East, 43.6%
    • #2 field goal percentage defense in the Big East, 40.4%
    • #6 three-point percentage in the Big East, 35.2%
    • #12 rebounding margin in the Big East, -2.3
    • #1 assists per game in the Big East, 16.7
    • #1 turnover margin in the Big East, +2.4
    • #2 assists/turnover ratio in the Big East, 1.3 (4 teams tied)

    Marquette

    • #1 scoring offense in the Big East, 73.2 ppg
    • #14 scoring defense in the Big East, 70.7 ppg
    • #8 free throw percentage in the Big East, 70.1%
    • #4 field goal percentage in the Bg East, 45.0%
    • #14 field goal percentage defense in the Big East, 45.6%
    • #11 three-point percentage in the Big East, 34.8%
    • #9 rebounding margin in the Big East, +0.4
    • #6 assists per game in the Big East, 14.7
    • #5 turnover margin in the Big East, +1.3
    • #2 assists/turnover ratio in the Big East, 1.3 (4 teams tied)

    (Note: All cited statistics are for the conference regular season.

    - Kevin O’Neill

     

    Comments are closed

    Archives