The Notre Dame basketball team scored their first pre-season raking since 2004. The #9 Irish are one of four Big East teams in the top ten. The conference, regarded by most as the toughest in the nation, boasts seven teams in top 25.
The Irish return four starters in Luke Harangody, Zach Hillesland, Tory Jackson and Kyle McAlarney. Their only significant loss from a year ago was Rob Kurz. Harangody is the reigning Big East player of the year. Mike Brey’s team is poised to make a solid run not only at the Big East crown, but could very well find themselves deep in the NCAA tournament.
The Irish return a bench which provided 21.5 points-per-game, a little over one quarter of the team’s points-per-game average. With four returning starters, the Irish offense could be one of the best in the country. They have an imposing perimeter attack – NCAA’s 5th best 3-point team a year ago, shooting 41% from beyond the arc – and one of the country’s best big men down low to keep defenses honest.
The Irish have posted 37 consecutive home wins, and are unbeaten at home over the past two seasons. The schedule is bottom heavy. The Irish open the season playing five of six games at home after they round up the preseason tournaments. The Irish don’t pay a ranked opponent until January, when they host Georgetown in their 12th game of the season. To close out the season, an impressive stretch of difficult opponents – 18 conference foes and UCLA – will challenge the Irish which could only help prepare them for March Madness.