(24) Notre Dame (23-7) at (8) Louisville (25-5)
Saturday, March 9, 4 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: KFC Yum! Center (22,000) -- Louisville, Kentucky.
Television: CBS. Home Record: UND 17-2, UofL 14-1. Away Record: UND 4-4, UofL
8-3. Neutral Record: UND 2-1, UofL 3-1. Conference Record: UND 11-6, UofL
13-4. Series Record: Louisville leads, 18-12.
GAME NOTES: With the potential to win the Big East Conference regular-season
title, the eighth-ranked Louisville Cardinals close out the 2012-13 campaign
with a home game against the 24th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
If you recall, these two teams played an epic five-overtime thriller in South
Bend on Feb. 9, with the Irish prevailing, 104-101. Despite the setback,
Louisville leads the all-time series, 18-12.
Notre Dame has enjoyed a tremendous season of its own, logging a 23-7 overall
record, which includes an 11-6 league ledger. While the Irish can not win the
Big East title, they can improve their seeding in the upcoming conference
tournament by winning this contest. UND has claimed victory in three of its
last four games, the most recent of which being a 66-40 rout of St. John's at
home on Tuesday night.
Louisville recently gave head coach Rick Pitino his 300th win at the school,
and the team comes into this clash sporting a 25-5 overall record, which
includes a 13-4 conference mark. Currently tied with both Georgetown and
Marquette atop the Big East standings, the Cardinals bring a six-game win
streak into this showdown, and they'll try to improve to an impressive 15-1 at
home with a victory.
Notre Dame got off to a horrendous start in its recent clash with St. John's,
shooting a mere 28 percent from the field in the field half, but after
intermission the Red Storm turned it on, draining 68 percent of their total
shots en route to a comfortable win. Jerian Grant scored 21 points and dished
out eight assists, Eric Atkins tallied 15 points and seven helpers, and Jack
Cooley logged a double-double consisting of 12 points and 13 rebounds, all of
which the Irish used to earn their 23rd victory of the season. St. John's was
decent to start the game (.414 FG percentage), but it really struggled after
the break, hitting a horrific 5-of-27 field goal attempts (.185), and it
missed 12 of its 13 3-point tries in the contest. Cooley and Grant rank one-
two on the team's scoring list for the season, checking in at 13.8 and 13.5
ppg, respectively, with the former also serving as the Big East's top
rebounder with 10.7 rpg. Grant and Atkins combine for 11.6 of the team's
league-leading 17.5 apg, and UND is putting up 71.2 ppg while allowing just
62.6 ppg. The Irish are the top shooting team in the Big East both from the
field overall (.473), as well as from 3-point range (.373).
Louisville was last in action on Monday night at home against Cincinnati, and
the Cardinals claimed a 67-51 decision to give Pitino his milestone victory.
The game was close for a while, but a back-breaking 25-7 run by UofL in the
second half coupled with the fact that it goaded the Bearcats into 21
turnovers, helped matters immensely. Russ Smith was high man in the game with
18 points, while Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng tacked on 11 points apiece. As a
team, the Cardinals knocked down 48.3 percent of their field goal attempts,
but went just 3-of-9 from beyond the arc. Louisville dominated the paint to
the tune of a 42-16 scoring differential, and it held UC to 35.3 percent field
goal efficiency, which included a 6-of-21 showing from 3-point land. Smith is
far and away the leading scorer on this team, as he nets 18.4 ppg, and Chane
Behanan is the only other double-digit performer with 10.5 ppg. Balance is the
key to the Cardinals' success, as four others average between 7.1 and 9.9 ppg.
Pitino's club is scoring a league-high 73.6 ppg while permitting only 58.0
ppg, and that type of favorable margin (Big East-best +15.5) has led it to the
success it has achieved to this point.
This one won't go five extra sessions, but it should be close throughout.
Expect the Cardinals to exact some revenge for that marathon loss last month,
and for them to at least earn a share of the Big East regular-season title as
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisville 69, Notre Dame 64
03/09 10:33:35 ET
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