#15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (17-4, 6-3 Big East) will square off against the Blue Demons of DePaul (6-14, 0-8 Big East), Thursday February 3rd at the Allstate Arena at 9pm EST.  Notre Dame last defeated #2 Pittsburgh Panthers in a major upset, 56-51. DePaul last played the University of South Florida last night falling 61-50. This will be the first matchup of the teams this year.

Notre Dame is led by F Ben Hansborough who is averaging 16.5 PPG and 4 APG and shooting 42.5 % from behind the arc. Hansborough’s all around-amazing effort of 19 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, and one steal made the difference in the Irish triumph over Pittsburgh. F Tim Abromaitis is also a top contributor to the team with 14.2 PPG and 6.5 Rebounds. F Carleton Scott rounds out the double digit scoring (11.7) on the team. On the whole the Irish average 75.4 PPG and allow 65.1 PPG. The team’s solid defense held the Panthers to 40% shooting.

The key to the Notre Dame win was slowing down the high-flying Panthers in the team’s first true road win. In fact, the Irish only tallied 47 possessions (a season low for any NCAA team this year). The Irish are only averaging only 54.7 possessions a game over their past three games.  Look for them to continue this style of play against DePaul.

DePaul stands alone at the bottom of the Big East standings and have lost eight in a row, their latest loss to South Florida. F Cleveland Melvin leads all scorers with 14.3 PPG and adds 4.7 RPG. G Brandon Young is a solid player for the team with 11.7 PPG and 3.8 APG as is Tony Freeland (11.2 PPG).

The DePaul defense leaves much to be desired. Opponents are connecting on 48% of their shots against the DePaul and outrebounding DePaul by 6.3 rebounds.   The team let up 80 points to Pittsburgh last week. South Florida shot 49% and outrebounded the Blue Demons  31-22.

I predict a big win for the Fighting Irish. They seem to be firing on all cylinders offensively while playing tough defense and controlling the pace of the game. DePaul is an inferior team on both sides of the floor.

Notre Dame 65  DePaul 42