The Notre Dame women's basketball team hosts the 24th-ranked Michigan Wolverines this evening. It's an opportunity for first-year head coach Niele Ivey to get the first big win of her career, but it won't be easy.
Location: South Bend, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)
Game Time: 6:00 PM ET
Network: ACC Network
The Wolverines began the season ranked 25th in the preseason associated press poll and are currently ranked 24th after starting the season with two straight wins.
vs. Central Michigan - Won 93-75
at Oakland - Won 95-62
Junior forward Naz Hillmon has been one of the top forwards in the Big Ten from the moment she arrived on campus. Hillmon averaged 13.1 points and 7.0 rebounds as a freshman and 17.4 points and 8.7 rebounds as a sophomore.
Hillmon scored 26 points and grabbed 11 boards in the opener and followed that up with 35 points and seven rebounds against Oakland.
Michigan has been dominant in the post this season, scoring 106 post points in the first two wins. The Wolverines out-rebounded CMU 41-23 and Oakland by a 53-20 margin, which included 21 offensive boards.
NOTRE DAME KEYS
1. Who comes back? - Ivey said after the win over Miami that she expected at least one of the injured players (Sam Brunelle, Mikayla Vaughn, Katlyn Gilbert, Natalija Marshall) back for the Michigan game. Getting Vaughn and/or Brunelle back would be crucial against Michigan (see below).
2. Work on the glass must improve - Notre Dame barely out-rebounded Ohio in the opener (37-32) and got beat on the boards by Miami (43-34). The RedHawks had 16 offensive rebounds.
Michigan's rebounding numbers in the first two games have been outstanding (47 per game), and the Wolverines have impressive length, led by Hillmon. The Irish will need to be better on the glass, especially on the defensive end, to keep the Michigan offense in check.
3. Knock down shots - Notre Dame has been up-and-down from the floor the first two games. They've been more streaky than anything, which isn't really a surprise when you consider how many new pieces are being worked together.
Against Michigan, the perimeter game must be better. The Irish need to knock down some deep shots in order to take some of the pressure off the post players and to stretch out the Michigan defense.
Through the first two games, when the offense has been rolling sophomore guard Anaya Peoples has been a key part of it. If she gets rolling early against Michigan it could help spark the entire offense.
NOTRE DAME ROSTER/STATS
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