Teams: Syracuse Orange (8-5, 1-1) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-4, 0-2)
Date & Time: Saturday, January 4 at 4 p.m. ET
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
Extended Forecast: High of 41, sunny in the afternoon
Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor says Syracuse has a 64% chance to win this one.
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 29-21, Syracuse
Current Streak: 1, Orange
First Meeting: Way back in 1914, Syracuse basketball faced off against Notre Dame. The game holds two important distinctions: 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. And thankfully, it was Syracuse on the positive side of history, winning the rout 50-14.
Last Meeting: Almost exactly a year ago, in an eerily similar situation. Syracuse stumbled into last year’s matchup against Notre Dame with a record only one game better than this year at 9-4. With bad losses to UConn and Old Dominion, their post-season fate looked almost equally in doubt. But behind 22 points from Elijah Hughes, that team was able to get the win, step up their play, and do enough to make the tournament. Is this year’s team ready to make the jump?
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,053-384 at SU) | Notre Dame - Mike Brey (20th Year, 426 at Notre Dame)
Coach Bio: Mike Brey is another one of those seemingly forever coaches who has been around the bend and back, several times. And while Brey has never won a national championship, he is notorious for putting together great shooting, smart teams, 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 16 trips, two Elite Eight appearances, and the 2015 ACC Championship.
Last Year: Notre Dame had a down year in 2018, finishing at 14-19 (3-15) and missing out the postseason for only the third time in Brey’s tenure. Injuries played a huge part in that, as top players Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell missed huge chunks of the season, and several other injuries to role players put them out of the hunt early in the ACC.
Last Game: An 82-56 drubbing of Alabama A&M. Notre Dame had five players in double digits and drained 13 three-pointers in the blowout win.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: John Mooney is another one of those big, crafty forwards who will give the zone fits. In his fourth and final season at Notre Dame, Mooney has developed into one of the absolute best forwards in the ACC conference.
He’s a solid shooter who is hitting 35% of his threes, but he can also score at all levels. He can shoot the mid range, drive to the hoop, or attack the glass. And that’s where he’s at his most dangerous. Mooney is averaging 13.5 rebounds per game, which leads the nation. He’s also grabbing 3.2 offensive rebounds per game, many of which lead to easy putbacks.
If Syracuse Loses: If Syracuse wants to get to the NCAA Tournament, this is one of those games they almost need to win. A loss here will look bad, especially if Notre Dame falters in ACC play, which seems possible.
If Syracuse Wins: The first of many needed wins against the mid-tier ACC teams. It would most likely end up as a Q2 win, but that’s not half bad, and Syracuse is going to need a lot of them to even think about dancing.
Fun Fact 1: 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.
Fun Fact 2: 33. The number of points Trevor Cooney scored against Notre Dame on February 4, 2014, which is still the record high for the series and got him nicknamed “the designated Irish killer” by coach Mike Brey after the game.