Preview: Seton Hall

As the Notre Dame basketball team looks to keep its remarkable home winning streak alive this Saturday, another milestone achievement is on the horizon.

If the 13th-ranked Irish (11-3, 2-1) can beat Big East conference opponent Seton Hall (9-6, 0-3), a 2 p.m. (EST) tip-off at the Joyce Center on Saturday, it will be the team's 20th-straight league win in South Bend. That would tie Pittsburgh's mark dating back to 2001-04.

This should be a very doable task, as long as the Irish don't have a let down like they did at St. John's last Saturday.

The Pirates are 1-3 against teams ranked in the national top-25 (a victory over then No. 19 USC), including their first three Big East games. They're in a tough stretch where the first five league contests come against ranked opponents.

Seton Hall is also short-handed. Coach Bobby Gonzalez only has eight scholarship players dressing for him.

"I don't really think much about the number," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. At his Big East teleconference on Thursday, Brey said he is looking for his team to try and win two conference games in a row for the first time this season. "I think that their kids play so hard, and they're quick in the way they defend you and make you chaotic. They want to create chaos with their defense, so handling the ball and knowing when to take the transition bucket and when to slow down are going to be big keys. I think Bobby does a magnificent job with eight guys, of keeping them fresh and rotating them through them."

One guy who always looks fresh is 6-foot-5 inch, sophomore guard, Jeremy Hazell. The conference's second-leading scorer behind the Irish's Luke Harangody (24.1 ppg), Hazell is netting 23.1 points per contest, and had 26 points in the overtime loss to No. 17 Villanova on Tuesday.

"I'm really impressed with Hazell," Brey said. "He put big numbers up the other night, he put big numbers up against us last year. There's no question he's an NBA prospect. He's a young guy right now. He's getting better in their system. But anybody that can put numbers on the board quickly like that, is going to catch peoples' eye on the next level, and he is certainly a guy you're concerned about when you're preparing for Seton Hall."

Others to be concerned about are Robert Mitchell, a 6-foot-6 forward that averages 15.3 points and a team-high 8.8 rebounds per game. Eugene Harvey, a 6-foot point guard is chipping in 12.9 points, and leads the team with 63 assists. John Garcia, a 6-foot-9 center, is contributing 8.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

Coming into the game, Notre Dame leads the conference in scoring at 81.8 points per game. Seton Hall is seventh in the 16-team league at 76.9. Defensively, the Irish are 11th at 66.7 points allowed per game, where the Pirates are dead last at 72.7.

Notre Dame is first in the league in 3-point shooting percentage and assists, while Seton Hall is first in steals per game. The Pirates are last in rebounding margin.


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