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Notre Dame Men's Basketball Opens ACC Play Against Struggling Syracuse

After an impressive win over Tom Izzo and Michigan State Wednesday night, Notre Dame hosts a second straight Hall of Fame coach when Jim Boeheim and Syracuse visit Purcell Pavilion on Saturday

Mike Brey’s Notre Dame men’s basketball team is coming off its biggest win of the season. The Irish downed No. 20 Michigan State 70-52 Wednesday night in the final ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Fighting Irish now open ACC play Saturday against longtime Big East and ACC rival Syracuse.

Where: Notre Dame, Ind – Purcell Pavilion
When: Saturday, Dec. 3 – Noon EST
Network: ESPN2
Radio: Notre Dame Radio Network – WSBT 960 AM in South Bend, Tony Simeone PBP

Let's take a look at today’s matchup:

NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (6-1, 0-0 ACC)

Head Coach: Mike Brey (478-260 at Notre Dame (23rd season), 577-312 28th season overall)

Notre Dame found its season teetering on the edge of a cliff after its Black Friday loss to St. Bonaventure. No. 20 Michigan State posed a formidable test Wednesday night and the Irish needed someone to break them out of their offensive funk.

They found that in Cormac Ryan.

The fifth-year guard poured in 20 first-half points en route to a 23 point net scorching to lead the Irish to their 70-52 upset of the Spartans. Ryan hit his first six 3-pointers before his first miss from long range.

“I think we were due for one, all of us,” Ryan said after Notre Dame’s biggest win of the early season. “We have guys who are too good at playing the right way. I think we were still kind of finding ourselves and we picked a good night to figure it out.”

The Fighting Irish needed everything they could get from Ryan beyond the arc. The rest of the team hit just 5 of 19 from deep. Freshman JJ Starling added 14 points, while Dane Goodwin scored 12.

It was a rare win for the Irish against ranked teams in recent years. They have now won just four of their last 34 such games in the last five seasons. It was also their only chance to get an early season resume booster before ACC play begins.

Probable Irish Starting Lineup

G JJ Starling - 6-3, Fr. - 13.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.0 APG
G Cormac Ryan - 6-5, 5th – 11.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.7 APG
G Dane Goodwin - 6-6, 5th – 14.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.2 APG
G Trey Wertz - 6-5, 5th. - 11.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.7 APG
F Nate Laszewski - 6-10, 5th – 16.9 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 5 BLK

Syracuse Orange (3-4, 0-0 ACC)

Head Coach: Jim Boeheim (1,002-430 in 47th season at Syracuse/Overall)

The start of Jim Boeheim’s 47th season has not been a good one for Syracuse. The Hall of Fame head coach is off to a 3-4 start with three consecutive losses after getting drubbed 73-44 at No. 16 Illinois Tuesday night. The Orange lost at home to Bryant last Saturday, lost an overtime game to St. John’s prior to that and are an overtime win over Richmond on Nov. 21 away from a four-game losing streak. Going back to the end of last season, Syracuse has lost eight of its last 10 games. While the losses have been mounting more regularly, the 78-year-old Boeheim will go into the program’s ring of honor on Dec. 10.

Saturday marks the 55th all-time meeting between the Fighting Irish and the Orange. Syracuse holds a 31-23 edge in the all-time series that extends back more than a century to the 1913-14 season. The Fighting Irish took the most recent meeting, 79-69, on Feb. 21 last season

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Opponent Projected Starting Lineup

G Judah Mintz - Stats – 15.1 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 3.1 APG
C Jesse Edwards - Stats – 13.7 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 20 BLK
F Benny Williams - Stats – 7.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.7 APG
G Chris Bell - Stats – 7.1 PPG, .9 RPG
G Joseph Girard III - Stats – 13.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.2 APG

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Syracuse has always had dagger shooting guards who can bomb 3-pointers, but Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim are both gone. Last year’s 16-17 team still shot a respectable 37% from long range, but this year’s team is hitting at just a 32% clip going into Saturday’s matchup. They shot just 5 of 17 (27%) from long distance in their Tuesday loss to Illinois and missed nine of their last 10 shots in the final 3:19 of the lopsided loss.

The matchup to watch in this game is likely inside with 6-11 center Jesse Edwards averaging 13.7 points and 11.4 rebounds. When Michigan State made a push to get back into the game after falling behind the Irish by 23 points Wednesday, they did it by going to the rim, scoring 26 points in the paint.

6-8 Ven-Allen Lubin and 6-10 Nate Laszewski are the most size the Irish provide in their predominant six-man rotation. Edwards’ 20 blocks also currently leads the ACC.

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