Is there a more exciting atmosphere than a game in the Purcell Pavilion on a Saturday night with an 11th ranked Louisville Cardinals team against No. 25 Notre Dame? How about if that game will be an ESPN College Gameday event?
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish fans will be ready and loud, with signs in hand. As ESPN analyst and former Notre Dame head coach Digger Phelps spews favoritism on your television. It will truly be an exciting matchup from beginning to end.
Both teams have very talented guards, who are great scorers and play aggressive defense. But this game will be won by the front-court.
Louisville will need great work underneath by Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan, both in scoring and in rebounding. Gorgui Dieng will have the size advantage at the center position with his 7’3″ frame and 7’5″ wingspan. Chane Behanan is losing some height at the power forward position at 6’6″, but is strong enough to where he can compete against the Irigh’s power forwards. Freshman Montrezl Harrell and senior Stephen Van Treese will need to bail out Louisville if either Dieng or Behanan get into foul trouble, which is a good possibility.
Notre Dame’s big men Jack Cooley and Tom Knight are very proficient on both sides of the court, the Irish rely heavily on Cooley to dominate the glass. This year, compared to years past, Notre Dame does not have a lot of options if either Knight or Cooley get into foul trouble. 6’10″ Zach Auguste will be the one relieving either player if fouls become a problem, and he averages about seven minutes per game so far in his freshman year.
The Fighting Irish have the best field goal percentage in the Big East Conference, shooting around 49-percent. Louisville shoots the ball with a 45-percent field goal percentage. But as I mentioned before, this will be a battle underneath. So regardless of the who shoots a better percentage, this game will be won by who wins the war on the glass.
Both teams could use this win. Notre Dame wants to stay in the top-25, and Louisville wants to keep improving and break into the top-10. There will not be a dull moment, that is for sure.
Tipoff to the game will be 9:00pm (EST) on ESPN.
Follow Jon Hancock on Twitter