Notre Dame goes on the road to face No. 18 Villanova. Tip-off in Philadelphia at the Wachovia Center is at noon on Saturday. The Wildcats are 13-4 overall and 3-3 in the Big East after being upset at Rutgers 80-68 on Wednesday night. It shows that even a big-time underdog is tough to beat at home in league play.
"Nothing surprises me," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said of the Scarlet Knights win. "It's the law of averages. Rutgers played real well. They hadn't been shooting well but they did last night. The RAC was RAC-like with the students back. All of a sudden, it's college basketball where anything can happen. Now you have two teams coming off losses and have similar psychological issues."
For Notre Dame, it'll be just their second game in 10 days. The last time the Irish were on the court, a determined Georgetown team was running them off the floor. The Hoyas held Notre Dame to 32 percent shooting from the floor while hitting 50 percent of their baskets in a 84-65 victory last Saturday afternoon. Roy Hibbert won the battle of the big men between Luke Harangody, scoring 20 points. The Irish sophomore forward hit just 3-of-13 shots from the field, good for 13 points. Sophomore point guard Tory Jackson committed seven turnovers while Kyle McAlarney, Rob Kurz and Ryan Ayers combined to connect on only 6-of-25 from the field.
Before that contest, Georgetown was coming off a road loss to Pittsburgh. This time, it'll be the same scenario for the Notre Dame opponent. But Rutgers win over head coach Jay Wright's Villanova squad was a little more on the upset side of things. The Wildcats committed 16 turnovers and shot 36 percent from the field. The Scarlet Knights were up by 18 at one points before a late Villanova run made the final score closer at the end.
Scottie Reynolds struggled shooting the ball against Rutgers, ending the night 5-of-19 but did finish with 16 points. The sophomore point guard is one of the Big East's best players. Reynolds averages 17 PPG to go along with four assists a contest. Reynolds has broken the 20-point barrier seven times this year, including a 32-point performance against Cincinnati. Despite being just a sophomore, Brey calls Reynolds the "elder statesman" of the team.
"I think where he hurts you more is in the lane," Brey said. "He just drives it. On every ball screen, if you double it hard he'll slice you and get to the basket. He draws a lot of fouls. He forces the refs to call something. He jumps into people and he's crafty like that. He pushes it in transition. We have to avoid him jamming it down our throat."
Corey Fisher, a 6-1 freshman from Brooklyn, NY, is second on the team in scoring at 11.3 PPG. But since Big East play has started, Fisher has broken into double digits just two of five times. Down low, Dante Cunningham leads the charge. The 6-8 senior is third in scoring at 10.6 PPG and first in rebounds at seven boards a contest. Shane Clark, a 6-7 junior, chips in with 9.4 PPG and five rebounds a contest.
***The Notre Dame Sports Information Department contributed to this report.