Game Preview: Notre Dame vs. Indiana
Notre Dame (8-3) and Indiana (10-1) square off today in the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis, and its an opportunity for the Fighting Irish to continue its winning ways. It's the ninth annual Crossroads Classic, and Notre Dame has a 4-4 record, although the Irish are just 1-3 against the Hoosiers.
Start Time: 12:00 PM (Eastern)
TV: ESPN (Jason Benetti, play-by-play / Jimmy Dykes - analyst)
Spread: Indiana -2.5
Indiana head coach Archie Miller is in his third season in Bloomington and the Hoosiers are off to their best start under him. Miller went 139-63 in six seasons at Dayton prior to moving onto Indiana, leading the Flyers to the NCAA Tournament in his final four seasons, including an Elite Eight run in 2013-14.
Indiana jumped out to an 8-0 start to the season, which included an 80-64 victory over then 17th-ranked Florida State. Its only loss on the season was to Wisconsin, but the Hoosiers bounced back and won their last two contests.
The top player for Indiana is 6-9 freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, a former five-star recruit. Jackson-Davis is averaging 15.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. The talented first-year big man is coming off an overtime performance against Nebraska in which he scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds. Jackson-Davis has racked up five double-doubles on the season and is averaging 2.0 blocks per game.
Indiana has a balanced attack, with several players capable of taking games over. Forward Justin Smith has two games with over 20 points, and he racked up 16 points and 10 boards in the win over Nebraska. Veteran guard Al Durham has seven games in double figures and senior guard Devonte Green scored 30 points in the upset win over Florida State.
This will be the third game back for guard Rob Phinisee, who missed five games with a concussion. The sophomore scored 16 points off the bench in the win over Nebraska.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Notre Dame's season was on the brink after a blowout road loss at Maryland was followed by a crushing home loss to Boston College. The Irish bounced back with an impressive victory (110-71) over lowly Detroit-Mercy and then punished UCLA (75-61).
The Irish have a game with Alabama A&M following this contest, and then Notre Dame starts ACC play with three road contests in its first four league games. The one home game is against No. 3 Louisville.
Notre Dame needs to go into ACC play with double-digit wins and riding a hot streak. Back-to-back wins over UCLA and Indiana would certainly be good resume builders, and would allow the Irish to continue building confidence.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Notre Dame should be able to matchup well against Indiana's bigs, as both senior John Mooney and Juwan Durham have been playing good basketball of late. Of course, the lack of depth in the post means they must stay out of trouble, but if they do they should be able to hold their own.
The key for Notre Dame is guard play. Indiana has good scorers on the perimeter, and they bring guards off the bench that can score. Senior guard TJ Gibbs and sophomore guard Prentiss Hubb will have their hands full on the defensive end, and they must close out on the Indiana shooters and make them take contested shots.
On the opposite end, Notre Dame needs Hubb to attack the basket early and often, and Gibbs needs to knock down shots. When Gibbs gets hot and Hubb is aggressive the Irish offense is at its best.
The bench matchup will also be intriguing. Indiana will use twice as many players off the bench, and there is scoring coming off the bench. Notre Dame also has scoring coming off the bench in Dane Goodwin (11.7 PPG) and Nate Laszewski (7.8 PPG), and if those two sophomores get hot the Irish could have a successful afternoon.
NOTRE DAME LINEUP