Don’t worry, for the second night in a row Notre Dame basketball is here to keep your mind of the disappointment that is Notre Dame football. The Irish will be trophy chasing on Tuesday night when they take on the Northwestern Wildcats in the championship game of the Legends Classic. Notre Dame is coming off a hard fought win over Colorado, while the ‘Cats thrashed #22 Texas 77-58. This has the makings of a good one.
When: Tuesday, November 22, 2016, 6:30pm ET
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
How to Watch: ESPN2 or WatchESPN
⏱ to play for a— Notre Dame MBB (@NDmbb) November 22, 2016
ND vs NW
6 pm ET
2016 Legends Classic Championship pic.twitter.com/Mnod3PXrIU
Northwestern Wildcats (3-1)
Northwestern hired Chris Collins away from Duke three seasons ago to help earn the ‘Cats their first ever NCAA Tournament bid. They look like they could have a pretty good shot this season as Collins brings back a talented group of players led by Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh. A win over the Irish would look impressive on a tournament resume, so expect the ‘Cats to get after the Irish tonight.
Northwestern should be able to score with the Irish. They average over 80 points per game and are in the top 35 in offensive efficiency. The real question is if they can defend the Irish. Notre Dame is one of the top offensive teams in the country, and even a good defensive team like Colorado couldn’t slow down the Irish.
Notre Dame is the more established team, but Northwestern is looking as if they have turned the corner in the early season. The Wildcats have played two quality opponents in Butler and Texas. They fell to Butler on the road, but had a lead in the game’s final minute. This isn’t the same old Northwestern team that is an automatic win by just showing up. The Irish will have to bring their A-game on Tuesday night.
Wildcats to Watch
Vic Law - 6’7”, Forward, Sophomore
The matchup between Law and V.J. Beachem will be one to watch. Both are dynamic wing players who can fill up a stat sheet.
Law missed all of last season with a torn labrum. He may have been the missing piece to last year’s team, but he’s back and he’s better than ever. The Chicago native is averaging 17.5 points and 4.8 rebounds. He has been shooting the ball at an unbelievable rate to start the season. Law is shooting 62% (22-35) from the field, and an astounding 75% (12-16) from beyond the arc.
He has got into foul trouble the last two games. He fouled out in the win over Texas and was limited to just 19 points. The Irish should try and attack Law and get him into foul trouble.
Bryant McIntosh - 6’3”, Guard, Junior
McIntosh is a very capable point guard. The three year starter is coming off a 20 point, five assist effort against Texas. He and Irish point guard Matt Farrell matchup very well against each other.
This season McIntosh is second on the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game and is the team leader in assists averaging 5.3 a game. So far this season McIntosh hasn’t shot the ball particularly well from beyond the arc, but he is a career 35% three point shooter. He has the ability to burn the Irish if he heats up.
Pick to Click
Steve Vasturia - 6’6”, Senior, Guard
Last night I was spot on with my pick of Bonzie Colson. I’ll try to go 2-2 Tuesday night with Vasturia. In Monday night’s win over Colorado he scored a season high 17 points. Vasturia has yet to shoot the ball the way we know he can, but he’s still found a way to average 13.8 points per game. I like him to knock down a few threes early to get into a groove.
Notre Dame 82 - Northwestern 74
Northwestern has shown they can play with anyone so far, so they will give the Irish a game here. That being said, Notre Dame will have too much offensive firepower. Colson and Beachem have come out of the gate firing on all cylinders. Matt Farrell has been better than expected and a great leader of the Irish offense. I like the Irish to pull this one out, and by the end of the year this will be pretty good win.