Notre Dame looks to win their first Big East game of the year as they travel to the greater Chicago area to take on league newcomer DePaul. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at Allstate Arena. These two teams are no strangers. This is the 93rd meeting between the squads and both will be looking for their first conference win of 2006.
The Irish still have to be smarting from a 100-97 loss in double overtime to Pittsburgh in both teams' Big East opener. Notre Dame led 97-94 with 2:20 left but could not hold on for the win. Ronald Ramon's three-pointer with 15 seconds left put the Panthers ahead 99-97 and a Luke Zeller three-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark to send Notre Dame to 9-3 on the year and 0-1 in the Big East. Guard Chris Quinn had a career-high 37 points in the contest, including 30 after halftime and a stretch of 16 consecutive points.
Awaiting the Irish are the Blue Demons, who are coming off a 82-60 loss to Cincinnati in a game that the Bearcats outrebounded them 53-35. DePaul is 7-5 on the year and have had a roller coaster year to say the least. Head coach Jerry Wainwright's team have beat teams such as Wake Forest and California but also lost to Bradley and Old Dominion by double digit margins. The Blue Demons are led by 6-6 junior Sammy Mejia's 16 points per game on almost 50 percent shooting from the field. Guard Draelon Burns is the only other DePaul starter averaging double figures (10.6 PPG) as the team is scoring 64 points a contest.
A loss here by Notre Dame would send them to 0-2 in the ultra-competitive Big East. The last time the Irish started 0-2 in conference play was back in 1997-98 season. With a home date against Syracuse on Wednesday, a loss to the Blue Demons on Saturday would create an uphill battle for Notre Dame in making the all-important NCAA Tournament. The Irish will once again lean on Quinn, who is now piling up 16.3 PPG. The squad hopes to get a better scoring output from Torin Francis. The senior was just 3-of-11 shooting in the loss to Pittsburgh but is still averaging almost a double-double with 13.1 PPG and 9.5 RPG.