#9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (22-5, 11-4 Big East) will take on the Seton Hall Pirates (11-16, 5-10 Big East) this Saturday, February 26th at the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Canter at 7:00 PM ET. On Wednesday the Fighting Irish triumphed over the Providence Friars in a nail biter, 94-93.  The Pirates lost to the Marquette Eagles 73-64 on Saturday. The teams last played each other March 10th, 2010 last season as Notre Dame defeated Seton Hall 68-56.

The Fighting Irish have won eight of their last nine contests. They trail Pittsburgh by 1 ½ games holding onto second place in the Big East. Under Michael Brey Notre Dame are playing their best basketball in 11 seasons. Notre Dame has an impressive resume this year as they have beaten five ranked teams in their first 10 Big East victories.

In a win over the Friars G Ben Hansbrough scored a career-high 32 points and notched 4 assists. F Tim Abromaitis added 28 for a season-high. F Carleton Scott also contributed 6 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks.  The defense let up a record 52 points to the Pirates’ Marshon Brooks in the 94-93 victory. The team had not yielded more than 40 points to a player since Danny Manning in 1987.

Seton Hall rests near the bottom of the conference in 12th place and 7 ½ games behind Pittsburgh. They have lost four out of their last five contests. The Pirates however have beaten #20 Syracuse on the road. Seton Hall is proficient a 4-5 away from home. Notre Dame should take note of this.

Against Marquette the Pirates’s G Jeremy Hazell led all scorers with 23 points. His 4 three-pointers made him the league’s all-time three point shooter with 192. He coincidentally passed the Fighting Irish’s Colin Falls who made 189 threes from 2003-2007. F Herb Pope got into early foul trouble and was only in the game for 15 minutes. Pope was limited to 6 points and 2 rebounds.  The defense left much to be desired yielding 55% from the field to Marquette. The Pirates also lost the rebound battle 40-22 to the Golden Eagles.

Hazell’s the offensive motor of the team averaging 18.5 PPG. He unfortunately was out for half the season. Memphis transfer F Jeff Robinson is a key contributor with 12.1 PPG and 6.7 RPG. Although in the past three out of four games he has been held to single-digit scoring. They also have a big man in F Herb Pope whose 8.4 rebounds rank him third in the Big East in rebounding. He also adds 10.1 points each game when not in foul trouble.

Hansbrough leads the Notre Dame attack with 17.9 PPG and 4 APG.  Abromaitis is another force to be reckoned with averaging 14.6 PPG and 6.2 RPG. When these players both average over 20 points, like on Wednesday night, Notre Dame wins. Hansbrough has scored in double-digits 25 times this season and Abromaitis has done so 22 times.  F Carleton Scott (11.5 PPG , 7.2) F Jack Cooley have been key contributors.

No doubt the Pirates have one of the most prolific scorers in the conference and arguably one of the best Big East shooters of all-time in Jeremy Hazell. The team also plays well on the road. The Pirates, however, are a liability on defense and the boards. The supporting cast has been missing the last couple of games. Notre Dame’s offense is too balanced and skilled for the Pirates. Ben Hansbrough will be in a fierce match up with Hazell but should come out on top.

Notre Dame 75  Seton Hall 65

Notre Dame's Hansbrough ready to fight