The Irish (5-2) play the opening contest of the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday against No. 25 Kansas State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 PM and ESPN will have the national television broadcast. Notre Dame doesn't have the preseason All-Americans that the other three teams possess. It's a safe bet that the Irish, who have won three straight games after back-to-back losses to Baylor and Georgia Tech, will use for some added motivation.
"I feel like there's three teams in New York," head coach Mike Brey said. "No one mentions us. They've been pubbing the Jimmy V all weekend. Nobody mentions us. I guess we don't have any NBA players. We don't have any lottery picks. Somebody told me Kansas State has two of the top five picks. It'll be a great challenge but I think we're ready for it."
The challenge will be great because of the magnitude of the contest for Notre Dame. While it's not win or else on Tuesday against Kansas State (5-2), this will be the last opportunity for a quality non-conference victory before Big East play starts in January. After the Wildcats, the Irish have home games with Northern Illinois, San Francisco, Brown and North Florida. A win on national television also might create some buzz for Notre Dame before heading into conference action next month.
"It would be a quality win for us," Brey said. "I think they're going to go on and have a good year. That's not lost on our guys."
Notre Dame's chances at a win will be greater if Kyle McAlarney can continue his hot shooting. After starting out the season slow, the junior guard has been on fire in the past three games. McAlarney has averaged 23 points a contest during this stretch, including a career-high of 25 in the victory over Colgate. The junior has hit 17-of-27 from three-point range in the three games.
The Irish might need every point they can muster on Tuesday. Notre Dame will be facing one of the best players in America in Michael Beasley. The 6-10 freshman forward can score from inside and out and averages a nation-best 26.7 PPG. Beasley adds 15 rebounds a contest and is shooting 47 percent from the field.
The freshman isn't the only scorer Kansas State has on its roster that can light it up. Jacob Pullen, a 6-0 freshman guard, is second on the team in points at 13.6 PPG and leads the group is assists. Bill Walker, a 6-6 freshman, is third in scoring at 10.8 PPG but is shooting just 14 percent from three-point range. Brey has two major keys for his team, whose last trip to Madison Square Garden in the 2007 Big East Tournament produced positive results.
"We're going to have to rebound the ball," Brey said. "They're an athletic team and we're going to have to get back in transition. Those are two things we always need to pay attention to. We need to get into a great offensive rhythm in the Garden. The last time we were in the Garden, I liked how this group played. I'm going to shot them clips of what we did against Syracuse and Georgetown with confidence and fearlessness."