What to Know
The Fighting Irish are off to a 6-0 start in Mike Brey's 17th season as the head man in South Bend. They've defeated notable teams like Colorado and Northwestern so far this season. Those games were a part of the Legends Classic, which is held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. The tournament title was the Irish's first in-season tournament title since 2010.
Mike Brey lost seniors Zach Auguste and Demetrius Jackson from a season ago, a duo that combined for 30 points, 15 boards, and six assists per game as seniors. However, he still possesses a very experienced bunch in South Bend. Senior forward, V.J. Beachum has played 102 games in his career, junior forward Bonzie Colson has played in 74, and senior guard Steve Vasturia has played in 107.
Brey will start three juniors and two seniors, so Iowa finds themselves behind the eight ball yet again when it comes to having experienced players on the court. But that is something that they'll need to get used to.
The Northwestern Wildcats took Notre Dame down to wire in the championship of the Legends Classic and they did it mostly by making life hard for Beachum and Colson, the main scorers for Mike Brey. The duo was a combined 7-24 for the game. The Wildcats also out-rebounded the Irish by 10 in the game.
Another thing to know is Mike Brey isn't going to play a lot of guys, especially if the game is close. His main core of Beachum, Vasturia, Colson, and Matt Farrell will play 35 minutes plus a piece if the Hawkeyes hang around on Tuesday night.
Who to Know
Brey's team is just as experienced as it was last year. And it's Colson and Beachum that lead the way. Colson leads the team in points (17.2 per game) and rebounds (9.7 per game). And the amazing thing is he does all of this at 6'5". He does a great job of using his body to get to the right spots on the floor. He's played double digit minutes per game in each of his three seasons in South Bend and is really taking a giant leap forward in now his junior season.
Beachum has played double digit minutes the last couple of seasons and it appears he is also taking a big step forward in the absence of Auguste and Jackson. Beachum is averaging 17 points and 4 rebounds through six games this season. He's a long, athletic wing at 6'8" and does a good job of getting to the rim. He's scored in double figures in every game this season. The Hawkeyes struggled with the Lawson brothers on Saturday afternoon and Beachum is a similar player.
Vasturia and Farrell are the other two impact players for the Irish. Vasturia is as experienced as they come considering he's played in 107 games in his career at Notre Dame. He's played double digit minutes per game in his four seasons as a part of the Irish program and has averaged double figures in points the last two seasons. It appears he is headed in a similar direction as he is averaging 15 points per game early on this season. Vasturia is the Irish's three point threat, he's shooting 44% from beyond the arc already this year.
Farrell has taken over the responsibilities of Jackson. He mans the point guard spot and is doing an excellent job early on this season. He is averaging 12 points and 5 assists in 27 minutes per game so far this season. He's turned the ball over just seven times in 6 games as well. He had the opportunity to learn from Jackson the past couple seasons and it is really paying dividends for the Irish.
Stats to Know
The Irish are coming off a season in which they won 24 games. Twenty wins has been an expectation in South Bend. Brey has won 20 games in 9 of the last 10 seasons, with the only exception being the 2013-14 season when the Irish won 15 games. The Hawkeyes and Irish actually played that season in the ACC/Big Ten challenge -- which they'll do again on Tuesday -- with the Hawkeyes winning 98-93 in Iowa City.
The last time the Hawkeyes played the Irish was last season when they met in the consolation bracket of the AdvoCare Invitational. The ranked Irish took care of the Hawks 68-62. V.J. Beachum led the Irish with 16 points in that game.
If the Hawkeyes don't figure their defensive issues out soon, we will probably see another high scoring game in South Bend on Tuesday night.