2017-18

Despite suffering a pair of potentially devastating injuries to key personnel, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team found a way to win both its contests last week. The two victories couldn’t have been more different in tone, with the first being a rout in front of a friendly South Bend audience and the latter matchup coming down to the wire in surroundings that have historically been unfriendly to the Irish.

Despite the two wins, Notre Dame is still trying to get back into the Top 25, which will be difficult for the remainder of the regular season due to the aforementioned injuries. The first, Bonzie Colson’s broken left foot, is expected to keep the double-double threat out until early March. Meanwhile, Matt Farrell continues to rehabilitate the injured ankle he suffered in the easy victory over the Wolfpack of North Carolina State.

Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review

One day after getting the bad news of Colson, Notre Dame managed to build a 12-point halftime lead over North Carolina State before turning the game into an 88-58 blowout win. The key stretch came during a 17-2 Irish run that started the second half, with Notre Dame holding the Wolfpack to 27 percent shooting from the field after the break.

The only bad news on the evening came in the latter portion of the first half, when Farrell was forced from the game by his ankle trouble. At the time of his injury, he had put up his standard numbers of nine points, four assists and two steals, but the injury was enough to keep him out of the Syracuse clash.

Despite not having their two key weapons in such inhospitable territory, the Irish still found a way to defeat the Orangemen, 51-49, at the Carrier Dome. Rex Pflueger broke a 49-all deadlock with 2.6 seconds left to deliver the game-winner, which came in a contest in which Notre Dame shot just 30 percent from the field.

However, the Irish controlled the glass, with a 42-27 advantage in that area. In addition, they kept Syracuse off the foul line, limiting them to just six attempts on their home court. During a sloppy first half of play on both sides, Notre Dame could only muster 19 points on the scoreboard.

Notre Dame Standouts of the Week

T.J. Gibbs

Stepping up in both games, Gibbs scored 40 points in the two victories, while also grabbing 11 boards and dishing out nine assists. Without his offensive punch in the first half against Syracuse, the Irish might have come close to being shut out. That’s because he scored 14 of the team’s 19 points on 5-of-10 from the field, while his teammates only managed to connect on one of their 19 field goal attempts during that time.

Rex Pflueger

Pflueger’s game-winning layup accounted for two of his 28 points on the week, with his 11 assists helping to fill the hole left by Farrell’s absence. Pflueger and Gibbs were the lone Notre Dame players to score in double figures during both of last week’s games.

Martinas Geben

Though Geben only scored 14 points during the week, his presence in the paint accounted for 27 rebounds and he also found time to dish out six assists. While the rebounding number stands out, one of Geben’s three steals against Syracuse helped set up the game-winner for the Irish.

D.J. Harvey

Aiding the Notre Dame cause once Farrell went down against the Wolfpack, Harvey finished that game with 17 points, which included a trio of three pointers. He also hauled in three rebounds and a pair of steals. His scoring numbers against the Orangemen were more modest, finishing with four points. However, he also grabbed nine rebounds and had a pair of steals.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

A pair of challenges await Mike Brey’s squad this week, beginning with a return matchup against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Wednesday. This contest will be a road battle after the Irish came away with a 68-59 victory on December 30 to start off the ACC portion of their schedule.

That’s followed by a home battle against 20th-ranked North Carolina, which has presently dropped its last two games. They’ll be coming off a Tuesday night home clash against Boston College. Since Notre Dame became an ACC member, the two teams have each won a game at Notre Dame, including an 80-76 Irish win in 2016.

Playing without All-American Bonzie Colson or star guard Matt Farrell, Notre Dame snapped a five game losing streak at the Carrier Dome to beat Syracuse on their home court for the first time since 2007. Without their stars, Notre Dame needed a total team effort and a dramatic finish to upend the Orange 51-49 with the game winner coming with just under three seconds to go on a put back by Rex Pflueger.

Notre Dame started slow on Saturday afternoon but they finished strong.  The Irish scored just 19 points in the first half but stingy defense kept them in the game and down just nine heading into the second half.  Their strong defense continued in the second half and eventually the offense followed.

TJ Gibbs paced the Irish with 18 points while Pflueger’s game winner gave him 12 on the day.  No other Notre Dame player scored more than 7 points on the afternoon as the rest of the team struggled to find their shots.  Freshman DJ Harvey, fresh off a career high Wednesday night against NC State, scored just 4 points on 1 of 14 shooting including 1 of 7 from three point range.

The Irish were able to stay in the game and eventually come away with the win despite their offensive struggles because of the job they did on the glass – especially on the offensive side of the ball.  Notre Dame picked up 42 rebounds including 21 offensive boards.  Martinas Geben led the charge with a career high 14 rebounds.  He has 27 rebounds combined the last two games since Colson was lost for 8 weeks with a broken foot.

Notre Dame is now 2-0 since Colson’s injury and improved to 13-3 on the season.  On Wednesday the Irish beat NC State to give Mike Brey the program record for wins playing without Colson and while losing Farrell to an ankle injury in the process.

With Colson out, every win is big.  With Colson and Farrell both out today, this one was huge for Notre Dame.  Syracuse came into the contest with an identical 12-3 record like the Irish.  Combine that with Notre Dame’s struggles in upstate New York over the last decade and you have to tip your cap to the Irish and head coach Mike Brey.

The bad news for Notre Dame is that Farrell wont’ be back for Notre Dame’s next contest on Wednesday night when the Irish travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech as originally thought. Mike Brey announced after the game that Farrell will likely miss the next four games after stating Wednesday night he would likely only miss today’s contest.  Tip off is 7:00 with the game broadcast on ESPNU.

As if it wasn’t hard enough for Notre Dame to play last night without star center Bonzie Colson, things got even harder for the Irish when they lost Matt Farrell to an ankle injury in the first against NC State. It didn’t matter.  Notre Dame won 88-58 over the Wolf Pack at Purcell Pavillion to give Mike Brey win #394 with Notre Dame breaking Digger Phelps program record in the process.

Without Colson and then Farrell, Notre Dame needed someone to step up last night.  Four players rose to the occasion.  Freshman DJ Harvey got the start with Colson out and responded with a career high 17 points.  TJ Gibbs chipped in a game high 22 and Rex Pflueger scored 16.  Martinas Geben posted a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Prior to suffering his ankle injury, Matt Farrell was off to a torrid start.  In 15 minutes of action he already had 9 points, 4 assists, and 2 steals with all 9 coming on three pointers.

In their first game since we learned that Bonzie Colson broke his foot and would be out for 8 weeks, Notre Dame played as well as anyone could have hoped – especially considering they lost Farrell.  Speaking of Farrell, Mike Brey said after the game that Farrell is doubtful to play this weekend at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse.  Notre Dame has had their struggled against the Orange on their home court making Saturday a daunting task.

Down two stars, the Irish bend was much more active than it normally is as well with four different reserves playing more than 10 minutes.  Senior Austin Torres specifically played well of the bench with 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals.  Torres figures to get even more playing time on Saturday against the Orange given Farrell’s status and TJ Gibbs ability to play the point in Farrell’s absence.

Getting DJ Harvey going last night was a huge plus for the Irish and will ne a necessity for Notre Dame to weather the Colson-less stretch of ACC games and still make the NCAA Tournament.  The freshman had been struggling the last few weeks and played just five minutes against Georgia Tech last weekend before logging a career high 30 last night.  With Harvey in the lineup, the Irish were technically starting four guards thought Harvey and Pflueger both bring some size at 6’6″ each.

Game time on Saturday is 3:15 with the game broadcast on ESPN2.

The Notre Dame men’s basketball team got some terrible news on Tuesday.  Star center Bonzie Colson will miss the next 8 weeks with a fracture in his foot that took place in practice.  The Irish lose their superstar just as ACC play is getting started.  The Irish kicked off ACC play on Saturday with a win over Georgia Tech but face NC State and Syracuse this week before really getting into the meat of the ACC schedule.

Obviously this news is awful for Notre Dame and could make a NCAA tournament bid questionable now.  The Irish sit at 11-3 currently with NC State coming to Purcell Pavilion tomorrow night. With Colson, there were dreams of another deep run in the NCAA Tournament even with Notre Dame’s December missteps to Ball State and Indiana.  Without him, Notre Dame is going to have to patch together a lineup that gets them enough wins to give Colson a chance to finish his senior season in march, not on the injured list.

An 8 week recovery time puts Colson back right at the end of February with a couple games to play in the regular season to get ready for the ACC Tournament.  Between now and then Notre Dame has 15 conference games to play without the heart and soul of their team.  Six of those games come against teams currently in the top 25 including two against North Carolina.

Before this injury, Colson was averaging 21.4 points and 10.4 rebounds a game to go along with 2.0 steals and 2.4 blocks a contest.  Stats aside, Colson was Notre Dame basketball this year.  This was supposed to be his year.  He came back for a senior season in order to make one more run into March with the Irish.  That is all in doubt now.

Notre Dame’s bench isn’t exactly the deepest in the front court this season so the Irish will be turning to some players who haven’t played a whole lot of minutes.  Sophomore John Mooney has gotten the most playing time among Notre Dame’s reserve forwards with just over 10 minutes a game.  Elijah Burns is clocking just 8.2 minutes game, Nikola Djogo 4.9, and senior Austin Torres 6.0.  The four are averaging a combined 7.2 points a game.

Mike Brey could decide to turn to Torres for more minutes given his experience but he hasn’t been turning to him much so far this year to this point.  He could also decide to go with a smaller, guard heavy lineup at times with Matt Farrell, TJ Gibbs, Rex Pflueger, and freshman DJ Harvey all on the floor at the same time with Martinas Geben.

Whatever Mike Brey decides to do, getting to the NCAA Tournament this year will now take one of his best coaching jobs to date which is in a way ironically fitting.  Brey is on the cusp of breaking Digger Phelps’s all-time record for wins with his next victory.  Whenever that victory happens, it will certainly be a well earned one at this one point.

While a Tournament bid is in doubt, this team still has some firepower with Farrell, Pflueger, and TJ Gibbs.  How many open looks they get without Colson drawing so much attention, however, will be something to watch over the next eight weeks.

Notre Dame was in a similar position four years ago when they lost Jerian Grant as an academic casualty at the start of ACC play.  Things didn’t go so well for the Irish that time with Notre Dame falling hard in ACC play and missing the postseason play all together while posting a losing record.  Hopefully this time around the Irish fare differently not only for the players who will be in the lineup the next eight weeks, but also for Colson who deserves to go out with one more dance in March after all he’s done for the program.

Notre Dame will play its first game without Colson tomorrow night at 9:00 with the game available on the ACC Digital Network.

Ending 2017 on a positive note probably took a little more time than Mike Brey and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were expecting, yet they accomplished their goal in their lone contest last week. That 68-59 win over Georgia Tech also allowed the Irish to start off ACC play right, with the rigors of this always-competitive conference on tap over the next few months.

Brey achieved a milestone as a result of the win, etching his name alongside the legendary Digger Phelps for victories as a Notre Dame head coach. Phelps and Brey have each won 393 during their respective tenures, with Phelps’ run spanning from 1971-91 and Brey currently in his 18th campaign with the Irish.

Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review

Entering the December 30 home clash against the Yellow Jackets as double-digit favorites, the Irish got an immediate dose of reality by finding themselves down 28-23 at the half. Georgia Tech led by as many as seven during the opening 20 minutes, helped by a pair of cold spells that saw Notre Dame go over four minutes at the midway point without a field goal. They closed the final five minutes with just a buzzer-beating layup to account for their field goal production during that span.

No doubt having received an earful during intermission from Brey, the Irish woke up and scored the first eight points of the second half. With just over 15 minutes left in the game, the Yellow Jackets took their final lead of the game 32-31. However, a Bonzie Colson jumper just 25 seconds later gave the Irish the lead for good, with that advantage reaching as high as 13 points.

Both teams struggled with their shooting, managing just 38 percent each from the field. Not surprisingly, their three-point touch was even worse, with Notre Dame also able to take advantage of a miserable afternoon at the line by Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets managed to shoot just 7-of-18 from the charity stripe, with those 11 misses notable because of the final nine-point margin.

Standouts of the Week

Bonzie Colson

Once again heading the list is the senior who helped deliver another standout performance with a 22-point, 17-rebound effort. Colson’s work on the glass matched his career-high in that category, and while he struggled from the field like many of his teammates, he still delivered in other areas. That included swatting away a trio of Georgia Tech shots and also picking up a pair of steals along the way.

Rex Pflueger

Joining each member of the starting unit when it came to scoring in double figures, Pflueger ended his busy afternoon with 11 points, with two of his three field goals coming from long-range. Like Colson, he managed to make an impact elsewhere by hauling down seven errant shots by the Yellow Jackets and also handing out a game-high six assists.

Matt Farrell

Both Farrell and T.J. Gibbs each ended their time against Georgia Tech with 10 points, with Farrell spending all 40 minutes on the court. All three of his field goals came on three-pointers, though he also struggled from the field by missing nine other attempts during the contest. Still, he did manage to supplement the rebounding effort with five boards and also handed out four assists.

Martinas Geben

Geben finished with 12 points and avoided the shooting woes of his teammates by hitting on 5-of-8 in the field goal department. Of course, he had the benefit of three of those baskets coming in the form of dunks over the final nine minutes of action. For good measure, he also delivered five rebounds.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

Two ACC games will get 2018 going for the Irish, the first coming on Wednesday night at home against North Carolina State. Notre Dame has won three of the four games since the two schools became conference rivals. The last time the Wolfpack came to South Bend was two years ago, which was when the Irish picked up an 89-75 win.

On Saturday, Notre Dame hits the road by traveling to the Carrier Dome to face Jim Boeheim’s Orangemen. Having dropped their last five meetings here, the Irish are hoping to pick up their first win in the imposing facility since 2007, a 103-91 win. Over the past two decades, Notre Dame has been on the wrong end of the final score here 11 times in their 13 tries.

Notre Dame opened their ACC schedule with a win over Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon.  The Irish beat the Yellow Jackets 68-59 after a sluggish start that didn’t see Notre Dame take its first lead of the game until a few minutes into the second half.  The win was Mike Brey’s 393rd as the head coach of the Fighting Irish which ties the school record held by Digger Phelps.

Bonzie Colson carried Notre Dame as he tends to do often with 22 points and 17 rebounds (tied for a career high).  All five members of Notre Dame’s starting line though did reach double figures: Martinas Geben (12), Rex Pflueger (11), TJ Gibbs (10), and Matt Farrell (10).  Geben’s 12 points were highlighted by three thunderous dunks in the second half.

The Irish bench, however, contributed just three combined points in the victory.  Notre Dame will need to find some help off its bench as it gets deeper into ACC play.  For Saturday though, the starting five powered by Colson’s monster afternoon was enough to start ACC play off with a W.

Notre Dame and Brey will go for record breaking win #394 on Wednesday when the Irish host North Carolina State.  The Wolf Pack are owners of a 10-4 record.  The game will tip off at 9:00 and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra (steaming through Watch ESPN).

Getting back in a winning groove was the gameplan for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last week, something that was accomplished with their two victories last week. While the two opponents they vanquished won’t necessarily help them get back into the Top 25, the Irish were able to stop the bleeding as they now venture into ACC play.

Moving up in the polls means being able to handle themselves in one of the country’s most competitive conferences. The non-conference portion of Notre Dame’s season has been something of a mixed bag, which doesn’t provide a clear roadmap regarding how things will work out over the next few months.

Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review

Both of last week’s wins were starter-driven, especially the 97-87 Dartmouth victory. In that contest, the bench contributed just three points, while the Irish defense had problems defending against the onslaught of Big Green three-point attempts. Dartmouth launched 32 on the night and and connected 15 times, a level of success that helped keep them in the game.

Two key stretches were the difference for Notre Dame, both of them wrapped around intermission. In the last five minutes of the first half, the Irish outscored the Big Green 18-10, including 11 unanswered points. Notre Dame then began the second half with a 15-7 run to take a 61-46 lead, but Dartmouth got within three at 82-79 with 4:36 left before the Irish were finally able to slam the door.

Two nights later, a second half surge by Notre Dame ended any upset hopes of SE Louisiana in an 86-50 rout. Mike Brey’s squad outscored their foes by a 49-21 score after the break, including a 20-4 run to get things going, which saw the Irish methodically build up their lead over the course of the half.

One of the chief reasons why Notre Dame had little trouble in this clash was the stifling defense that saw them hold SE Louisiana to just under 30 percent shooting from the field. Like the Dartmouth win, this was primarily the work of the Irish starting unit, which scored 74 of the team’s 86 points.

Standouts of the Week

Bonzie Colson

Two more double-doubles last week now give Colson 31 in his storied Notre Dame career. His 37-point, 11 rebound performance against Dartmouth was needed to emerge with a win. That point total marked a career-high for him and was supplemented by a trio of steals and a pair of blocks. Against SE Louisiana, he had to get patched up during the course of the game, but still managed to score 16 points and grab 10 boards.

Matt Farrell

Farrell collected 39 points and eight assists during the two wins, numbers that have become fairly standard in the minds of Irish fans. Hitting 61 percent on his 23 shots from the field, he also managed to hit on 6-of-12 from long-range, with his continued leadership on the court one of the linchpin to Notre Dame’s success.

Rex Pflueger

Playing virtually the entire game against Dartmouth, Pflueger notched 13 points and swiped six rebounds off the glass. Two nights later, he was able to get a little more rest, yet managed a strong all-around game by scoring 17 points hauling down five rebounds, while dishing out three assists and collecting the same number of steals.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

The holiday week will be relatively quiet-Saturday afternoon, when the Irish host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in a game set to tip off just after 2 p.m. Entering the month of December, Georgia Tech was flying high with a 4-1 mark, though most of the wins came against lower-level opponents.

However, once December arrived, the Yellow Jackets got a painful dose of reality with losses in five of their last six contests. The lone victory came against Florida A&M, while a pair of their defeats came against the likes of Grambling and Wofford. Their most recent game saw Georgia Tech waste an 11-point second half advantage in an 85-81 loss to Wright State.

Since Notre Dame entered ACC play, the Irish have won five of the eight games played in this series, with the home team having won all but one of the matchups. Getting off on the right note in this conference is imperative, especially with the rigorous schedule the Irish faces in the weeks ahead.

While the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team plays its home games within the state of Indiana, the team is probably thankful that no more in-state rivals are on the 2017-18 regular season schedule. That’s because the team’s only game last week mirrored the previous week’s situation, whereby a winnable game against a Hoosier-based opponent went by the boards.

Likely the most frustrating aspect of these past two losses is that the Irish might still be residing within the Top 10 due to the fact that their only other loss was on the road against second-ranked Michigan State. Instead, a pair of losses to unranked foes, ironically both ending in the same final score, has sent Notre Dame tumbling from being the fifth-ranked team in the nation to out of the Top 25.

Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review

Facing the Indiana Hoosiers in the annual Crossroads Classic on Saturday, the Irish had countless chances to take control of the game. Ultimately, however, they saw a double-digit second half lead disappear due to breakdowns in the latter stages of both regulation and overtime, which resulted in a bitter 80-77 defeat.

Indiana held a few small leads during the first 10 minutes of action, but the Irish put together a 19-3 run to turn an 11-9 deficit into a 28-14 advantage with 5:15 left before intermission. The problem was that over that final stretch of the first half, the Hoosiers managed to use an 11-3 surge to cut the Notre Dame halftime lead to just six at 31-25.

Even though Indiana then scored the first six points of the second half, the Irish managed to build their lead back up. With just 2:01 left in regulation, they held a 65-57 lead. Unfortunately, that’s when the Hoosiers’ Juwan Morgan took over the game, scoring eight unanswered points in that remaining to tie the game and send it into overtime.

A pair of T.J. Gibbs’ free throws with 20 seconds remaining in the extra session gave Notre Dame a 77-74 lead, but Morgan returned to haunt the Irish one more time. Trying to convert a three-point play, Morgan missed his free throw attempt, but the ball caromed to another Indiana player who fed Morgan for a go-ahead dunk with eight seconds left. A Matt Farrell three-point attempt was blocked and converted into two final free throws.

Standouts of the Week

Bonzie Colson

Delivering a double-double against the Hoosiers, Colson remained the centerpiece of the Notre Dame squad. The senior finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds, while also adding a pair of steals. He also continued to give the team an aggressive presence, frequently making it to the foul line and converting 11-of-13 attempts.

T.J. Gibbs

One of three Irish players who were on the court for over 40 minutes against Indiana, Gibbs ended the frustrating afternoon with 17 points and three rebounds. His point total aided by a trio of three-pointers, one of those coming in the first half that gave Notre Dame that aforementioned 14-point advantage.

Matt Farrell

Another solid overall game against the Hoosiers ended on a sour note with that last-second block of a three-point attempt. Farrell had connected on a pair of three-pointers earlier in the game and finished with 15 points, eight assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals. Despite that on-court versatility, the only likely image lingering in Farrell’s mind is that last effort.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

Prior to the ACC opener on December 30, the Irish should be able to get back on track this week with a pair of home contests. The first of those foes comes from the Ivy League in the form of the Dartmouth Big Green on Tuesday night. Two nights later, Southeastern Louisiana faces the Irish for the first time ever.

Dartmouth enters this game with a 3-5 record, having dropped three of their last four matchups. The opponents they’ve faced thus far are underwhelming, so this contest should allow Notre Dame to get back on track. The final margin shouldn’t be in doubt, with Mike Brey likely to have the chance to give his reserves some time to play.

Facing the Lions of Southeastern Louisiana shouldn’t pose much of a problem, either. They have a 6-5 record, with a game on Tuesday night. However, their schedule has been heavy with lower-level opponents from the Bayou. In short, expect an easy victory.

Mike Brey returned home to Delaware – the university that gave him his head coaching start – with Notre Dame in desperate need o f a W after losing two of the last three including a heart breaker to unranked Ball State last week.  Despite a sluggish start, Notre Dame got just what the doctor ordered with a 92-68 victory spurred by 45 points from Matt Farrell and TJ Gibbs.

In their last out of conference “away” game before ACC play begins, the Irish were in dire need of a good win to build some momentum after a disappointing two weeks. After moving up to #5 in the country the Irish got beat up by Michigan State and lost to unranked Ball State at home last week sandwiched in between a tune up win over St Francis of Brooklyn.  (Notre Dame will play Indiana in Indianapolis on Saturday).

Bonzie Colson added another double-double to Gibbs and Farrell’s outburst and Martinas Geben posted 12 rebounds to go with 8 points in helping the Irish dispatch their head coach’s former employer.

Next up for Notre Dame is a showdown with instate rival Indiana in the Crossroads Classic Saturday.  Game tips off at 2:30 and will be broadcast on FOX.  The Hoosiers are 5-5 after losing to Louisville yesterday and will not play again this they face the Irish.  Notre Dame will then get two tuneups at home against Dartmouth and SE Louisiana State before getting into ACC play.

 

The Fighting Irish Men’s Basketball team is coming off an impressive win in Maui. Notre Dame overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat the #6 Wichita State Shockers, and claim the 2017 Maui Invitational. The schedule does not get any easier, as Mike Brey will lead his team into East Lansing to take on the #3 Michigan State Spartans for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

What you Need to Know:

  • Game Time: November 30th, 7:00 p.m. on ESPN
  • Location: Breslin Center, East Lansing, Michigan
  • Matchup: Notre Dame leads the series 60-35 (Notre Dame won the last meeting in 2014 by 1 point in overtime)
  • Current Odds: N/A
  • NCAA Tournament Projections: Michigan State #1 seed; Notre Dame #2 seed

Michigan State Details:

  • Conference: Big Ten
  • Head Coach: Tom Izzo (22nd season; 548- 221 at Michigan State)
  • 2017 Record: 5-1
  • 2016 Record: 20-15 (10-8 in Big Ten); eliminated in Round of 32

Notre Dame Details:

  • Conference: ACC
  • Head Coach: Mike Brey (17th season; 388-187 at Notre Dame)
  • 2017 Record: 6-0
  • 2016 Record: 26-10 (12-6 in ACC); eliminated in the Round of 32

Key Players to Watch:

Bonzie Colson is a preseason All-American. That means he is one of the best 5 players in the entire country, if he continues to play to his potential. He may become the first All-American at Notre Dame since Jerian Grant. Although he is undersized at 6’ 5”, that did not stop him from averaging a double-double last year, and this year through the first 6 games. Many analysts continue to wonder how he keeps this production up. It’s simple; Bonzie plays with heart, has a high basketball IQ, and he can knock down shots from any spot on the floor, a lot of the time fading away.

Matt Farrell is one of the best point guards in the country. In his first 6 games, Farrell is averaging 17.5 ppg and 4.3 apg. It’s a cliché, but Matt plays with some of the most passion and heart of any player in the country. His three-point shooting is lethal, and he is not afraid to shoot with a man in his face.

Miles Bridges headlines the #4 Spartans this season. Along with Bonzie Colson, he too is a preseason All-American. Bridges is averaging 19.7 ppg and 7 rpg for the Spartans on the season. Bridges is only a sophomore and coming in at 6’7” will present a tough challenge for the Irish.

Nick Ward falls just behind Bridges in points per game. Ward is averaging 16.3 ppg along with 5.3 rpg. The 6’8” Forward adds to the size that Michigan State presents. He is also shooting an alarming 76% from the field.

Michigan State Storylines:

Michigan State’s bad record in Challenge. The Spartans are surprisingly only 7-10 all time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. However, the Spartans are 6-2 at the Breslin Center during the series. This will be a pivotal game in the Challenge, as two of the best teams in each conference go toe to toe. Last year the ACC won the challenge easily, defeating the Big Ten 9-5.

The Spartans are 5-1 this season. Michigan State is coming off an impressive win over the reigning national champions, the North Carolina Tar Heels in the PK80 Tournament. This team has Final Four hopes, as many Tom Izzo coached teams have been to in the past. Michigan State’s only loss was by 7 points to an undefeated Duke team. The atmosphere in East Lansing will be hostile and the Spartans will be well prepared.

Notre Dame Storylines:

Final Four type game against Wichita State. In the championship game in Maui, Notre Dame only scored 21 points in the first half against the Shockers. But Mike Brey made the halftime adjustments and the Irish started to cut into the large halftime lead. The Irish eventually cut the lead to just one, as Mike Brey’s perfect out of bounds play opened up Martinas Geben for a dunk. But he was hacked and Geben was able to knock down two clutch free throws to seal the win.

Can the Irish repeat against Sparty?  Three years ago, the Irish beat the Spartans in South Bend in an overtime thriller. Back then the Irish were led by two great seniors in Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton. Mike Brey, led by two seniors once again, hopes to steal a win for the ACC on the road and propel his team to perhaps a top 3 ranking in the country.

My Prediction:

Michigan State has Final Four potential. It is early in the year and there has not been a large sample size for either team. When the Spartans are good, the Breslin Center is one of the hardest places to play in the entire country. Michigan State has a completely stacked roster this year. I can’t wait to watch this game and see what the Irish can do against the Big Ten’s best.

If the Irish get off to a slow start like they did against Wichita State, I don’t see them coming back. Notre Dame will have to hit at least 10 three-pointers to get this huge road upset. Mike Brey brings a veteran roster into East Lansing. I think it will be another Final Four type game, but I have the Spartans pulling away in the end.

My Prediction: Michigan State 80 Notre Dame 70

Most trips to Hawaii tend to result in visitors returning home with smiles on their faces. That’s definitely the case with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s men’s basketball team, which swept their three games at the Maui Invitational. The trio of victories doubled the number of wins for head coach Mike Brey’s team on the young season and kept them undefeated at 6-0.  It also moved them into the AP Top 5 in the latest rankings released on Monday.

No doubt Brey and most fans were relieved that two of the victories came easy, allowing the team’s reserves a chance to see some court action. The lone nail-biter was also a valuable aspect of the trip, since it gives the key players the opportunity to get a taste of the high-pressure situations that will follow in the months ahead.

Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review

Facing the host Chaminade Silverswords last Monday night brought with it some concern that the Irish might be looking ahead to bigger challenges over the next two days. While three-point shooting kept Chaminade close early on, Notre Dame was able to get their lead into double figures with five minutes left in the first half and held a 38-29 advantage at halftime. The Irish depth then managed to wear out the undermanned Silverswords, leading to an 83-56 victory.

One night later, the opponent was the LSU Tigers, with the decision even more convincing in a 92-53 rout. The main aspects of how Notre Dame was able to coast in this game stem from the team’s stifling defense and their 15 three-pointers. The Irish were also able to exploit the unfortunate ankle injury suffered by Tiger guard Brandon Sampson, who left the game in the first minute of play. Soon after that occurred, Notre Dame used a 15-2 run to make it an easy night and earn a spot in the tournament final.

Facing sixth-ranked Wichita State, a pair of free throws in the closing seconds by Martinas Geben capped a riveting 67-66 comeback from a 16-point deficit. The Irish trailed 37-23 at the half and made the decision to focus more on their inside game on offense. For the defensive side of the ledger, a zone defense was implemented and managed to methodically whittle the margin down. Geben’s game-winning free throw marked only the second lead of the entire game for Notre Dame.

Standouts of the Week

Bonzie Colson

Mr. Consistency managed to collect a pair of double-doubles in the three victories. Against Chaminade, he tossed in 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, then managed to add five steals to a 12-point, 11-rebound effort against LSU. A 25-point, 11-rebound performance against Wichita State also saw the senior swat away a pair of shots by the Shockers.

Matt Farrell

Farrell led the rout of Chaminade with 27 points and added four assists, then connected on four 3-pointers as part of a 17-point, seven-assist contribution against LSU. Making his presence felt on defense against Wichita State, he added three steals to his 15 points and four assists.

T.J. Gibbs

Sandwiching a pair of relatively quiet performances around a 26-point performance against LSU, Gibbs is finding his way in the Irish backcourt. In that LSU contest, he knocked six three-pointers and added four assists. Meanwhile, the other two efforts saw him score seven points in each, though in the Chaminade game, his all-around game was on target with four boards, three assists and three steals.

Martinas Geben

Making his first appearance in this section, Geben delivered more than just those two clutch free throws to defeat Wichita State. In that game, he finished with 12 points and five rebounds and blocked a pair of shot attempts. Less fanfare came in his four-point, seven-rebound game against Chaminade, though he did reach double figures in scoring against LSU with 10 points and added four more rebounds.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

Just one game for Notre Dame this week, but like the Wichita State contest, it serves as a huge litmus test. That’s because it comes on the home floor of the Michigan State Spartans, who are currently ranked third in the country. That game will tip off Thursday just after 7 p.m. (ET) and be broadcast by ESPN.

The 5-1 Spartans are coming off a convincing 63-45 win over North Carolina, with their only loss coming against another ACC foe, the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils, in an 88-81 defeat. Tom Izzo’s squad would like nothing better than toppling the undefeated Irish.

Notre Dame men’s basketball team added something else to be thankful for this Thanksgiving – a Maui Invitational Championship.  The Irish knocked off #6 Wichita State despite barely leading throughout the game and after trailing by as many as 16.  The Irish led early at 4-2 but did not hold another lead until there were 2.3 seconds left on the clock and that’s all that matters.  Notre Dame won 67-66 thanks to an exhilarating final minute of action.

After Bonzie Colson missed a three pointer that would have tied it with just over 30 seconds remaining, things looked bleak for the Irish.  Then Matt Farrell came to the rescue with a steal on a Wichita State inbounds pass that led to an easy layup for Colson.  After the Shockers missed the front end of a one and one, Mike Brey called a timeout and drew an inbound play to the most obvious target on the court – Martinas Geben.  Notre Dame’s often overlooked big man flashed down the lane and got fouled.  Geben nailed both shots from the charity stripe and after Wichita was unable to to even get a shot off, the Irish were still perfect on the season and claimed the Maui title.

Colson had another double double with 25 points and 11 rebounds.  Farrell chipped in 15 with 4 rebounds and 4 assists

Notre Dame advanced to the Maui Invitational Championship with a convincing 92-53 victory over LSU on Tuesday night. The Irish were lead by T.J. Gibbs’s career high 26 points and never were seriously challenged by LSU who looked overmatched by the #13 ranked Fighting Irish.  The win pushes Notre Dame to the championship game of the Maui Invitational tomorrow where they will face #Wichita State.

Matt Farrell pitched in 17 points and 7 assists and senior All-American Bonzie Colson picked up another double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.  The easy victory let Mike Brey exercise his bench with 12 players seeing game action last night.

Tip-off tonight for Notre Dame’s showdown with the Shockers is 10:00 PM ET and the game will be broadcast by ESPN 2.

Heading into their third week of action, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are still awaiting their first stiff challenge of the season. Currently ranked 13th in the nation, the Irish have pretty much been able to play on cruise control during this early portion of the 2017-18 campaign.

That situation won’t likely change over the next five weeks of non-conference action, though there are a few potential stumbles for Mike Brey’s squad. In the meantime, getting some of the new players integrated into the system and offering rarely-used reserves to get some time on the court figures to be the likely course of action.

Notre Dame Basketball Week in Review

Facing a team like Chicago State at Purcell Pavilion wasn’t likely to elicit a great deal of concern, given the vast disparity when it comes to talent on both sides. Fans that came into this game with that mindset had their opinions validated when the Irish came away with an easy 105-66 victory.

The ease was best represented by the fact that that Notre Dame led from start to finish, reaching the century mark and holding Chicago State to just 36 percent shooting from the field. By halftime, it was clear that the rout was on, with the Irish holding a commanding 56-29 advantage.

The good news that comes out of what might ordinarily be a ho-hum early-season bashing is that Notre Dame was able to take care of business early. The win allowed them to reach the 3-0 mark on the season for the fourth consecutive year. Handling things in this manner helps avoid the needless concern that inevitably bubbles up when things like motivation come under closer scrutiny.

Standouts of the Week

Bonzie Colson

Had the game against Chicago State been closer, Colson would have collected yet another double-double. Playing just 24 minutes, he still managed to score 15, haul down nine boards and also swat away five shots. He made the most of his shot attempts, connecting on 7-of-10 from the field.

Matt Farrell

Honing his edge on both sides of the ball, Farrell topped Colson in the scoring department with 18 points. In addition, he managed to grab five rebounds, collect five steals and dish out four assists. Like Colson, he was yanked relatively early, seeing only 27 minutes of action.

T.J. Gibbs

Gibbs continues to show that he’ll be an integral part of the Irish squad this season after leading the team with 23 points against Chicago State. His shot was in good form, making all four of his two-point shot attempts and connecting on 4-of-7 when it came to the long-range variety.

D.J. Harvey

The freshman offered up the first inkling that he has the potential to follow in the footsteps of Notre Dame legend Adrian Dantley, who also played at DeMatha High School. Harvey’s 16 points in 22 minutes, coupled with four rebounds and a pair of assists, are notable, even if the opposition might be considered suspect.

Notre Dame Basketball’s Week Ahead

Spending time in Hawaii is a dream for many people, but the Irish won’t have too much time to enjoy things with three games in the Maui Invitational on the schedule. Things tip off on Monday night with a victory over Chaminade, a school that was forever immortalized in the early 1980’s when they stunned the Ralph Sampson-led Virginia Cavaliers.

Obviously, drastic changes have taken place in the ensuing decades, but even with hometown fans cheering on Chaminade, Notre Dame  avoided looking ahead to their Tuesday clash. That meeting will come against LSU, who took down Michigan following Notre Dame’s win over Chaminade.

Wednesday’s opponent is currently undetermined, depending on how Notre Dame fares tonight. However, it will be one of the following four schools that round out the tournament’s teams: California, Marquette, VCU or Wichita State.

Once those games are completed, Brey and his squad will have a full week to prepare to face the Michigan State Spartans. That matchup is likely to be their stiffest competition until ACC action kicks off on December 30.

Matt Farrell scored a career high 27 points as Notre Dame made short work of DII Chaminade in the 1st round of the Maui Semifinal on Monday night.  The 13th ranked Irish also got 23 points and 8 rebounds from Bonzie Colson along with 12 points off the bench from star freshman guard DJ Harvey.  Harvey has scored in double digits in back to back games coming off the bench for the Irish.  With the win, Notre Dame will face LSU in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday night.  Tip is set to 10:30 so it’ll be a late night for anyone on the east coast trying to stay up for the game.  Of course, you can always check back in at UHND Wednesday morning for the highlights as well.