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Basketball preview: Notre Dame Fighting Irish Vs Louisville Cardinals

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The # 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (19-4, 8-3 Big East) will next play the #15 Louisville Cardinals (18-5, 7-3 Big East). The game will take place tonight at the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center at 7:00 PM ET. Notre Dame bested the Rutgers Scarlett Knights 76-69 on Wednesday and The Cardinals defeated the DePaul Blue Demons last week 61-57.

This is the only matchup between Notre Dame and Louisville this season. The Cardinals leads the all-time series 16-9. The Fighting Irish has stood strong against Louisville at home with an overall 5-4 record.

Notre Dame looks to extend its unbeaten home winning streak tonight to 18 games. With a win over Rutgers the Irish now boast a robust 8-3 record in the Big East. In last week’s victory G Ben Hansborough once again led the team in scoring with 25 points. The game also saw solid efforts from G Scott Martin (14 points) and F Carleton Scott (12 points, 11 rebounds). The team won with steady ball control (only surrendering  9 turnovers) and consistent foul shooting. These will be factors in the game against the Cardinals.

Hansborough is a force to reckon with this year for the Irish. In the Big Bad Big East he has averaged 19.3 points a game and 17.2 overall. Hansborough’s all-around game includes shooting 41.4% from three-point range and averaging 4 assists per game. Over his last four games he has averaged 24.0 points on 31-on-56 shooting. The Cardinals must play their best defense to keep him in check. The Irish scoring attack, averaging over 75 points per outing, also includes major contributions from F Tim Abromaitis (14 ppg), Scott (11.5 ppg), and Martin (10.3 ppg).

In a win over DePaul, Louisville was paced by G Kyle Kuric’s 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor. He was clutch in nailing a 3-pointer with 2 minutes left to ensure a Cardinals victory. Rick Pitino’s team outrebounded the Blue Devils 35-24 and outshot them 12-3 from the stripe.

Louisville this year is paced by G Preston Knowles’s 14.9 points per game. His field goal percentage is a poor 39.6 percent however. He may not go against the Irish tonight due to a hamstring injury. The team will look for G Peyton Silva (10.7 ppg, 119 assists, 51 steals), F Terrence Jennings (9.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG), G Chris Smith (9.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG) to step up in his absence. They are dealing with injuries of their own as Silva is battling back spasms and Chris Smith has eye issues. The hero of Saturday’s contest against the Blue Demons, Kuric, is averaging 14.3 points over the last three games as  the Cardinals are averaging 77.4 points per game.

 I predict a win here for the Fighting Irish. They have arguably the best player in the league and the nation and a strong , healthy supporting cast. They are playing smart in not turning the ball over and getting to the free throw line. Louisville, on the other, hand should change their name to the “Invalids”. The team struggled against the lowest of the low in the Big East in DePaul last week. Therefore they won’t be able to match up against the #7 ranked team in the nation.

Notre Dame 75  Louisville 59
    
 

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