Preview: ND vs. Wisconsin

Mike Brey's Irish to take on Wisconsin in tonight's Old Spice Classic title game.

Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin

Team Records: Notre Dame (6-0) Wisconsin (4-1)

Tip-off: 7:00 PM (EST) on ESPN2

Previous Tournament Results: Notre Dame defeated Georgia 89-83 in double overtime Thursday night; then pummeled California, 57-43 on Friday. Wisconsin manhandled Manhattan 50 to 35 on Thanksgiving, then stymied Boston College, 65 to 55 in Friday's semi-final.

Stat to Note: Wisconsin held Manhattan to 10 points on Thursday in their opening matchup; Notre Dame topped that defensive effort by surrendering just five points to Cal in Friday's first-half fiasco.

Game Links to catch you up to speed: Caught up in ND's football weekend and the Thanksgiving Holiday? IrishEyes has you covered with game recaps of Notre Dame's wins over Georgia, and California (click links).

Early Season Quote to Note: "I was trying to do the math. I've never had 21 points at halftime and been up 16." – Irish head coach Mike Brey regarding the unlikely intermission score in Friday night's win over California.

Point Spread: Wisconsin -3

Notre Dame Starters and Key Contributors

  • Forward: 6'8" 218-pound senior Carleton Scott – The team's top producer in the Old Spice Classic posted 27 points and 22 boards including a pair of double-doubles in wins over UGA and Cal…Has struggled with the rest of the roster from downtown in H-P Center, hitting just 1 of 15 from beyond the arc though Scott has connected on 9 of 14 offerings from two-point range…Leads the team in rebounds (7.8 per game), personal fouls (18 total) and blocked shots (10) while scoring at a 10.8 clip through six early matchups.

  • Forward: 6'8" 235-pound senior Tim Abromaitis – Leads the team with 17.3 points per game though remains in a prolonged stretch of inefficiency, hitting just 40 percent of his field goal attempts and 31 percent from beyond the arc to date…Ranks third on the squad with 42 total rebounds and is one of a trio of front court starters to average better than 7 caroms per game through the first six contests…Has logged more time than any Irish player at 32.7 minutes per game and boasts nearly a 3 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio with 15 assists and 6 turnovers on the season.

  • Forward: 6'8" 232-pound senior Tyrone Nash – Senior ranks first in offensive rebounds (17 of his 43 caroms came from teammates' misses), second in total boards (7.2), third in scoring 12.7 per game and third in assists (19 while committing just 9 turnovers)…The early key to the team's inside-out attack as Nash has proved an effective post scorer, passer, facilitator of the offense, and free throw maven, attempting a team-high 53 charity shots and connecting at a 75.5 percent clip.

  • Guard/Forward: 6'8" 219-pound senior Scott Martin – Slow start likely a by-product of two seasons away from Division 1 game competition…Martin has hit just 40 percent from the field, 20 percent from long range and missed seven of his 21 free throw attempts over five games…Has averaged 4.2 boards with 9 assists and 8 turnovers to augment a 9-point per game pace.

  • Guard: 6'3" 203-pound senior Ben Hansbrough – Cooled a bit in the last two outings after a blistering start but has still hit 49 percent of his shots from the field and an impressive 54.5 percent of 33 long range offerings…Leads the team with 26 assists though his 17 turnovers are above his usual rate; ranks second in scoring at 15.3 ppg while chipping in at just under four boards per contest…The team's sole penetrating threat through six contests.

Key Reserves:

  • Guard: 6'2" 173-pound freshman Eric Atkins – True freshman point guard keyed the double-overtime victory over Georgia with seven points and an assist in the second extra session…Smooth floor leader has just six turnovers vs. 20 assists to begin his collegiate career…At 27 minutes per game, Atkins already ranks as the team's "sixth starter" less than one month into his first season.

  • Center/Forward: 6'9" 244-pound sophomore Jack Cooley – Emergence as a quality backup center and seventh-man ranks as the key storyline to the season's first month…Running neck-and-neck with Tyrone Nash for the team's most improved award following the 2009-10 season…Has hit 15 of 24 shots inside while netting a respectable 8 of 12 foul shots…Ranks second on the squad with 14 offensive boards, pulling down 26 total in just over 13 minutes per night…Five blocks puts him at second behind high-flying Carleton Scott among Irish defenders.

  • Forward: 6'6" 215-pound sophomore Joey Brooks – Playing time has decreased since the Irish left South Bend but Brooks will remain head coach Mike Brey's eighth man thanks to a Big East body and versatile defensive skill set…Needs to play more under control and try to do more damage near the basket as 1 for 8 three-point shooting effort will attest.

  • Forward: 6'9" 248-pound sophomore Mike Broghammer – Physical third post defender could see time vs. the powerful Badgers front line tonight.

Meet the Badgers

Head coach Bo Ryan's Swing Offense would have dissected Notre Dame teams of the past over a 40-minute contest. But the 2010-11 Irish are built on defense and pride on the glass which makes tonight's contest a near toss-up as both teams get their feet wet in late November.

Point guard Jordan Taylor runs the show with a 3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. The junior floor leader is an improved outside shooter (as well as free throw shooter, hitting 16 of 18 this season) and will be a tough cover for Irish freshman Eric Atkins.

Freshman off guard Josh Gasser has hit 8 of 15 shots for 20 points over the first two games of the tournament while burly senior forward Kheaton Nankivil has chipped in with 7 offensive boards in just under 43 game minutes in wins over Manhattan and Boston College.

Wisconsin's top dog is senior power forward Jon Leuer, a member of the USA Basketball Select team over the summer. At 6'10 240 pounds, Leuer is a deadeye shooter that benefits greatly from the swing offense. He's improved across the board in each of his four seasons (literally: in every standard statistic tracked), and will likely encounter both Tyrone Nash and Carleton Scott defensively in tonight's title tilt.

The Old Spice Classic championship game features two teams built to work inside-out: both patient; both productive; both more substance than flash.

That's the new M.O. for Mike Brey's veteran laden basketball program. That's been Wisconsin's approach for more than a decade.

Look for Tyrone Nash to be pushed from his comfort zone on the low block and for both team's shooters to continue to struggle from the outside. Tonight's nod goes to the gritty, battle-tested Badgers, but the Irish will prove the better team by season's end.

Prediction: Wisconsin 68 Notre Dame 62 Top Stories