DePaul Blue Demons vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Sunday, March 2nd, Noon (Central) – Allstate Arena
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A much heated rivalry in the form of #17 Notre Dame (21-6, 11-4) comes to All State Arena this Sunday as DePaul (10-17, 5-10) and the Fighting Irish clash in DePaul's last home game of the season. The game will also serve as Senior Day for the Blue Demon's four departing seniors (Draelon Burns, Cliff Clinkscales, Wesley Green and Karron Clarke). With the rivalry and departures of the seniors, it is sure to be an emotional day.
The game on paper seems like a mismatch as Notre Dame is playing in the upper echelon of the Big East trying to at least earn a bye for the Big East Tournament, while DePaul is reeling having lost four in a row (eight out of their last 9) and trying to cling onto the 12th spot in the standings in order to qualify for the Big East Tournament.
Being that it's Senior Day and that the Fighting Irish are an opponent despised by DePaul fans, perhaps the Demons will play some inspired ball to disrupt the funk it has endured in this trying season. Besides those reasons, if DePaul were able to win, they can maintain a stranglehold on the 12th spot as they enter the last week of the regular season.
But, beating Notre Dame will be a tall order. Despite losing to Louisville on the road on Thursday 90-85, the Irish have had quite a season. At this point Notre Dame is playing for seeding in the NCAA tournament and trying to earn one of those valuable byes (given to the top four in the league standings) in the Big East Tournament.
The Irish are led by Luke Harangody (21 ppg and 10.6 rpg) who is a load down low and likely favorite for Big East Player of the Year. The 6-8 sophomore gets great position in the paint and has an array of moves that leave opponents in his wake. His scoring average is tops in the Big East while his rebounding mark is second in the league. Harangody was simply outstanding in Thursday's defeat, as he scored 40 points while trying to will his team to a win.
What makes Harangody so good is that he is a fine passer. He gets others involved, especially if he is double teamed.
Other threats for Notre Dame are 6-9 senior forward Rob Kurz (12.3 ppg and 7.7 rpg) and sharpshooting 6-0 junior Kyle McAlarney (15.3 ppg and a Big East leading 91 three pointers for 45% from behind the arc). 5-11 sophomore point guard Tory Jackson (8.3 ppg) is the engine behind the finely tuned Irish as he looks to get his teammates involved. Proof of that is his 6.18 apg, which has him tops in the league.
The Irish can shoot and score at will as they place first in the Big East in team scoring at a staggering 81 ppg clip. What compounds the matter for the Demons is the fact that they have struggled on defense this year, placing second to last in the league in scoring defense.
This will be the second time the teams have met this year. The first game in South Bend was a track meet, with Notre Dame outlasting the Demons 89-80.
Expecting anything less than a high-scoring game is foolish for a team like Notre Dame that scores a lot with a team like DePaul that gives up a lot.
Suffice it to say, playing some hard-nosed defense would benefit DePaul. Notre Dame will score, but limiting their chances and crashing the boards will be vital for the Demons.
A key player in this game for DePaul will be freshman captain Mac Koshwal. Koshwal, who leads the Demons in rebounding (8.3 rpg), will be key in trying to contain Harangody. Koshwal must establish himself in this game and limit the second chance points for the Irish.
DePaul has some quality scorers in Burns, Dar Tucker (12.6 ppg) and Will Walker (9.9 ppg), but it would be in the best interest of the team to not try getting into a shootout since that will play into the Irish's hands.
For Burns, Clarke, Clinkscales, and Green this is the last hurrah. For these seniors it has been difficult in the adversity they faced. They faced a coaching change while they were sophomores and have two losing seasons in their time at DePaul. I doubt they want to go out without even a chance in New York (home of the Big East Tournament). It should be interesting to see if the Demons can match Notre Dame's intensity and score an upset while boosting morale.
The Last Time
Notre Dame won 89-80 on February 2nd in South Bend. Harangody led all scorers with 29 points and 14 rebounds. Tucker led the Demons with 19 points. Koshwal scored 18 and corralled nine rebounds. Burns contributed with 17 points.
Notre Dame Roster
No. Name Ht./Wt. Pos. Yr. Hometown/High School
1 Tyrone Nash 6-8/220 Guard FR Queens, NY/Lawrence Woodmere Academy & Northfield Mt. Hermon
2 Tory Jackson 5-11/193 Guard SO Saginaw, MI/Buena Vista
5 Tom Kopko 6-2/180 Guard FR Chicago, IL/St. Laurence
13 Ty Proffitt 6-4/206 Guard FR London, KY/South Laurel
20 Jonathan Peoples 6-3/215 Guard SO Bellwood, IL/St. Joseph
21 Tim Abromaitis 6-8/224 Forward FR Unionville, CT/Farmington
23 Kyle McAlarney 6-0/196 Guard JR Staten Island, NY/Moore Catholic
31 Rob Kurz 6-9/232 Forward SR Lower Gwynedd, PA/Penn Charter
33 Zach Hillesland 6-9/233 Forward JR Toledo, OH/St. John's Jesuit
34 Carleton Scott 6-7/198 Forward FR San Antonio, TX/James Madison
40 Luke Zeller 6-10/239 Forward/Center JR Washington, IN/Washington
41 Tim Andree 6-8/210 Forward SO Colts Neck, NJ/Christian Brothers Academy
42 Ryan Ayers 6-7/210 Guard/Forward JR Blue Bell, PA/Germantown Academy
44 Luke Harangody 6-8/251 Forward SO Schererville, IN/Andrean
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