Date & Time: Wednesday, January 22 at 7 p.m. ET
Location: Joyce Center, South Bend, Ind.
Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor says Syracuse has a 38.2% chance of winning. That seems lower than I’d have thought for a team that’s played so well on the road this year.
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 29-22, Syracuse
Current Streak: 1, Notre Dame
First Meeting: Way back in 1914, Syracuse basketball faced off against Notre Dame. The game set two records that still stand today: it was the most lopsided game in the entire history of the series, and it had the lowest point total by either team in the entire series as well. Thankfully, it was Syracuse on the positive side of history, winning the rout 50-14.
Last Meeting: Ugh. Do I need to say much else? The Orange let a golden opportunity slip away in the last meeting with the Irish on January 4. They led for large portions of the game and looked in control until the final six minutes.
On the backs of monster performances by John Mooney (28 points, 14 rebounds) Prentiss Hubb (22 points), and T.J. Gibbs (21 points), Notre Dame was able to edge the Orange 88-87. Joe Girard’s buzzer-beating three gave us the final score, and a somewhat questionable no-call on the attempt had fans up in arms. Will the Orange be able to exact revenge in South Bend?
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,056-386 at SU) | Notre Dame - Mike Brey (20th Year, 428-227 at Notre Dame)
Coach Bio: Mike Brey is one of those coaches who has seemingly been around forever and done it all. And while Brey has never won a national championship, he is notorious for putting together great, smart teams that can pass and shoot, usually anchored by a skilled big man that can be a handful for any team on the offensive end.
Brey is the all-time winningest coach in Notre Dame basketball history, with 12 trips to the NCAA tournaments, three Sweet 16s, two Elite Eights, and the 2015 ACC Championship.
Last Year: Notre Dame was crushed by the injury bug for the second straight season, this time losing Rex Pflueger and Robby Carmody for much of the year en route to a 14-19 record (3-15 in the ACC). Following a 10-3 start, the bottom fell out in league play and they endured two separate losing streak of five or more games against ACC competition. The Irish managed to win a game in the conference tournament (vs. Georgia Tech), but were stomped by Louisville a day later.
Last Game: A 78-74 win over Georgia Tech at home. After back-to-back losses for the Fighting Irish, getting a win against the Yellow Jackets was a nice bounce back. Prentiss Hubb led the way with 25 points, and Mooney chipped in with yet another double-double.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: John Mooney. Hubb will also be a handful, but keeping Mooney off the offensive glass is the difference between a win and a loss in the last meeting, and it will be much the same in this one.
If we can contain Mooney and hold him to around his season averages, Syracuse will win. If he explodes for another 20-plus point effort, especially in the second half, it’s going to be tough to get a win.
If Syracuse Wins: Another quality road win. Going 4-0 on the road in the ACC is nothing to scoff at, especially when two of those games are against Virginia and Virginia Tech. Even in a down year, nothing in the ACC is easy, so getting this win puts us one step closer to being back on the bubble. One game at a time.
If Syracuse Loses: Not a must-win, but getting the split against the Irish is better than the alternative. Getting swept would look bad, especially since the Irish are most probably not an NCAA Tournament team themselves.
Fun Fact 1: In the series, there are 20 games that have been decided by five points or less, including the game earlier in January. From 1939 to 1996, nine of the 11 matchups were decided by five points or less.
Fun Fact 2: 20-8. That’s the record Syracuse basketball had against Notre Dame when both schools were still in the Big East. The Orange were also 2-1 against the Fighting Irish in the Big East Tournament.