Big East Basketball Prediction: Notre Dame Will Win the Conference

Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

 

As of now, most Notre Dame fans are more interested in hearing how good their football team is than their basketball team. However, by the looks of it, the South Bend faithful will have something to cheer about even after bowl season.

Louisville and Syracuse are expected to be the class of the Big East, but it is the Fighting Irish who should end up at the top of the conference standings come March.

Head Coach Mike Brey has a talented and balanced squad heading into the 2012-13 season. “I started thinking of our team in June,” Brey told ESPN’s Jay Bilas. “I don’t know if I’ve been more excited to work with a group given what we have coming back, some of the new additions and a group that now wants to do more.”

Last year’s team went 22-12, including a 13-5 conference record. This season’s expectations will be higher as Brey returns all five starters and brings in Michigan State transfer Garrick Sherman along with a strong recruiting class.

Notre Dame’s guard play will be some of the best in the conference. Eric Atkins is a junior point guard and is ready to take the next step in his career. He is a solid floor general with the ability to score. Jerian Grant could be the team’s leading scorer after averaging over 12 points during his first year. Grant also led the team in assists and could be the breakout star in the Big East this season.

The frontcourt is similarly stacked. Talk to a diehard Notre Dame basketball fan and they will not stop raving about Jack Cooley. The Luke Harangody look-alike was an all-conference second team selection last season and should see another uptick in production.

Pat Connaughton should complement the roster well with his shooting touch from deep, high level feel for the game and defensive tenacity. Add in sixth-year senior Scott Martin and the Irish have a very good player at every position.

Brey has won with much less talent than he will have at his disposal during this upcoming season. He signed a 10 year deal to keep him at South Bend and the program is in better shape than ever with a strong 2013 recruiting class to look forward to. However, Brey does not need to wait for that class to come to see his team win a Big East championship. That should come this season.

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