Irish eyes will not be smiling if Notre Dame falls to Providence Friday night in South Bend. Last time these two met Marshon Brooks went silly on the Irish defense exploding for a Big East record 52 points in a one point Notre Dame win. The Irish can clinch a double bye at the Big East tourney with a win and a top four finish in the league. Mike Brey has done one of the better coaching jobs this year in college basketball as the Irish lost their top scorer from last season when Tim Abromaitis tore his ACL in practice just two games in this year, but Abro will be in uniform for senior night. A third straight win in conference play for the Friars, going into Madison Square Garden nonetheless, would be their first in league play since they did it twice in the 2008-2009 season and would speak volumes of how far they have come since the beginning of the season. Get your shamrocks ready people.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 7:00PM EST
Opponent: #19 Notre Dame (20-10, 12-5)
Location: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center
Spread: Fighting Irish -12
ESPN Accuscore Projection: Notre Dame 71.2, Providence 62.8 (Notre Dame wins in 74.7% of over 10,000 sims)
CBSSports Daily Picks: Notre Dame 78, Providence 65
Coaching: Ed Cooley’s first return to South Bend since his BC days. Mike Brey and his mock-turtleneck try to improve their Big East and NCAA seeding.
WHAT TO: VOTE FOR
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
Spit out the seeds: As each Big East team comes down the stretch, we all wonder who will play whom on Tuesday and who will get the bye and double bye. The Irish are poised for a double bye as they have been a top four team all year long. A loss would hurt their chances at that and open the door for South Florida and Georgetown. The Friars are tied with Pitt and Villanova; yes blowing that 19-point lead hurts still, with 4 league wins. A win and an all Pennsylvania loss would give the Friars the 13 seed in the Big East. By the end of Saturday, we should have a good idea who will have what seat.
Kiss me I’m Irish: No one in the Cooley household will be wearing any St. Patrick’s day gear this weekend as Ed will be sure not to give in to the Irish hype this early in March. Notre Dame’s resume speaks for itself but rest assure that Cooley and the Friars will look at this as a very winnable against a team that scored only 41 points last game and 58 before that. If the Friars hold the Irish under 60 in this one Cooley will be sure to kiss and tell.
Dominicans and Shamrocks?: I haven’t seen any O.P. pick any shamrocks recently, have you? But these two Catholic schools have something in common when it comes to history and long standing traditions. Do these two have a future in a Catholic conference one day? Besides basketball, these two will soon face each other on the ice.
Cooley™: Lets play a little trademark pick ‘em. Ed Cooley or Notre Dame F Jack Cooley. Give me big Ed every time. The only Jack that Ed should be worried about is the Georgetown mascot, have you seen his grill? The Notre Dame F averages 12 and 9 and anchors the Irish in the paint. Leave it up to Ed to have the perfect game plan for him, as he will use a dose of Dixon, Batts and Kofane to try and give Jack a different look each time down the court.
Anything but Prayers: It is said there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. The Irish don’t throw up many rainbows as they shoot it at .328% behind the arc and have five guys with 26+ threes (26, 35, 38, 41, 49). The Friars have three in that category (28, 41, 73) and three other guys with a combined 8. Jerian Grant and Cotton have made the most for their squads and the two shooting guards have the ability to put up point in bunches.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Game Notes [PDF]
Scouting The Irish: No. 20/19 Notre Dame has posted a 20-10 mark overall and a 12-5 record in the BIG EAST. In the team’s most recent game, the Irish were defeated at Georgetown, 59-41, on February 27. Sophomore guard Jerian Grant leads the team in scoring as he is averaging 12.6 ppg. Junior forward Jack Cooley leads the team in rebounding (8.9 rpg).
Friday will be the 25th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Providence. The Fighting Irish lead the series 15-9, including eight straight victories over the Friars. The Irish have won four straight at home over Providence. The last Providence win in the series was a 73-59 decision on Feb. 24, 2004 at Notre Dame. The Friars are 4-8 all-time at Notre Dame.
8. Notre Dame: In November and December the Fighting Irish didn’t even look like a team capable of making the NIT. Now — despite the loss of Tim Abromaitis — Notre Dame is tied for third in the Big East standings with a 12-5 conference record. Mike Brey’s squad went 6-2 in February.
Chicago Tribune: Atkins undisputed floor leader for Notre Dame
During this two-month run, Atkins isn’t No. 20 Notre Dame’s leading scorer. He isn’t even Notre Dame’s assist leader. But he is, without question, its lead voice while on the attack.
He was handed the ball in October. He was handed the captaincy in December. He has been handed full rein of the offense, basically, and his choreography has produced an improbable NCAA tournament club.
Chicago Tribune: Abromaitis in uniform, but that’s it, for Notre Dame senior night
“I kind of look at it as a night for Tim, to really honor him for all he’s done for our basketball program. It’s been a tough year for him – but we’ve hurt for him more than he’s hurt for himself as we’ve gotten going. I kind of look at it as Tim’s night, and very well-deserved, with everything he’s done for our program.”
Abromaitis, of course, was supposed to be the lodestar scorer for the Irish this season but played two games this season before tearing his ACL. He also is a two-time Big East basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year having graduated in 2010 and having finished Notre Dame’s accelerated MBA program in 2011.
Grantland: John Thompson III Schools Mike Brey
In one 10-minute stretch in the first half, Notre Dame managed just three points. A similar dry spell in the second half saw them score two points in seven minutes. To see why this happened, and to see how Brey played directly into Thompson’s hands and probably shouldn’t be considered for coach of the year anymore, let’s take a look at the most boring play diagram in history.
Chicago Tribune: ND’s Cooley goes to the film to avoid another clunker
Cooley was averaging 14.6 points and 10.4 rebounds in league play before that outing and spent the next day absorbing film of what went wrong — and also what had been going right during the No. 20 Irish’s nine-game winning streak before two straight losses.
“It appeared I was becoming a little more complacent with some possessions and not entirely allowing myself to try to dominate every possession like I had been during the streak,” the Glenview native said as the team prepared to face Providence on Friday.
“I can’t allow myself to do that. I can’t take any possessions off. During the Georgetown game, there were one or two out of frustration — getting hit every possession kind of wears on you. That’s not going to happen again.”
F Jack Cooley, Notre Dame: Cooley couldn’t win tonight. Before the game, Georgetown fans were letting him have it with the student section chanting “You aren’t Harangody” in reference to ex-Irish big man — and near look-a-like — Luke Harangody. The game didn’t get better for Cooley as he finished with 2 points and zero rebounds. Cooley averages 12.3 points and a team-leading 9.3 rebounds, and was completely neutralized by Henry Sims tonight. Coach Brey wasn’t sure what the problem was either: “For him to play 25 minutes and not get a rebound is staggering. That’s the one thing he can do.”
ESPNChicago.com:Providence-Notre Dame Preview
“I think their best position is to be down,” Brey said. “They certainly have nothing to lose overall given where they are with their record but then when they’re down, they’re even more fearless.”
WHAT TO: WATCH
Irish Dominican’s snowball fight in Dublin
Gus Johnson in the making?
Irish knock off #1 Orange
And here come the students…
20 three-point FGs for the Irish against Nova
Irish intro a little flashier than the one here in Friartown
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
Twitter.com: I’ll probably be live tweeting the game @friartownmayor and of course follow @friarblog. Also be sure to follow the #pcbb hashtag as always.
WHERE TO: WATCH
WHERE TO: LISTEN