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Notre Dame Basketball: Dartmouth Game Preview

The Irish return home for the first time in 14 days

NCAA Basketball: Crossroads Classic-Indiana at Notre Dame Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After another heart-breaking loss to the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will look to get back on track Tuesday when they return home for the first time in 14 days. The Irish welcome the Big Green of Dartmouth College to Purcell Pavilion in a game that will have plenty of scholar athletes on the court at least. Dartmouth hasn’t had a winning season since before the new millennium, and I didn’t bother to keep searching to find the last time they did.

Quick Facts:

  • #BreysChase: Coach Brey still needs four more wins to surpass Digger Phelps for the most men’s basketball coaching wins in school history.
  • This will be the sixth meeting between Notre Dame and Dartmouth, with the Irish leading the all-time series 5-0.
  • Notre Dame is 46-4 all-time against Ivy League schools, with Penn and Princeton being the only schools in that league to beat the Irish.
  • Dartmouth is 1-7 all-time in games played in Indiana, with its only win coming way back in 1949 against Northwestern.
  • Notre Dame has lost three of its last five games and has been out-rebounded by at least nine in each of those losses.

When: Tuesday, Dec. 19, 7:00 p.m. ET

Where: Purcell Pavilion, South Bend, IN

How to Watch: ESPNU with Bob Wischusen and LaPhonso Ellis.

Notre Dame Basketball Radio Network with Jack Nolan and Zach Hillesland. Available on WatchND.tv, locally on WSBT-AM 960/FM 96.1, network affiliates and SiriusXM Channel 119 (Sirius) 202 (XM) and 963 (internet).

Dartmouth Big Green (3-5)

The Big Green were picked to finish seventh out of eight Ivy League teams in the preseason media poll. With three seniors and one junior on the roster, Dartmouth is relatively young and their inexperience has shown so far in 2017.

Sophomore guard Brendan Barry leads the Big Green in scoring by a slim margin, with 12.4 points per game. Four other players - senior guard Taylor Johnson, senior guard Miles Wright, junior guard Guilien Smith, and freshman forward Chris Knight - average at least 11 points per game.

NCAA Basketball: Dartmouth at Rhode Island Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Green are also undersized. Sophomore forward Will Emery is the biggest player on the team at 6-foot-9 and 215 pounds. Much to the delight of Notre Dame fans who are tired of watching the undersized Irish get bullied on the glass, Dartmouth averages less rebounds than its opponents and hauls in just 30.8 per game.

Looking at the overall team stats for the Big Green, it’s hard to find anything that stands out as a real strength. Three-point shooting is the only category in which Dartmouth performs better than its opponents on average, shooting 35.3 percent on 20 attempts per game. Barry is their sharp shooter and has 10 straight games with at least two three-pointers made. Opponents have been allowed to shoot fewer three’s and only make 32.5 percent of them, an indicator that Dartmouth’s guard-heavy lineup plays good perimeter defense.

Big Greenman to Watch:

Chris Knight, F, Freshman

Up until Dartmouth’s last game against UIC, the freshman Knight was leading the team in scoring. Prior to that game he was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week while leading the Big Green in field goal percentage. Knight is 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, and since he averages the fewest minutes of any player in the Dartmouth rotation, he makes the most of it. Foul trouble is likely the cause of that, and it limited him to just nine minutes of playing time in that UIC game. But before that he scored in double figures in six straight games. Knight is a legitimate threat off the bench that the Irish will have to keep an eye on.

Irish X-Factor:

Bonzie Colson, F, Senior

As expected, Bonzie has been Notre Dame’s star in 2017. The senior has elevated his scoring to a career-best 20.4 points per game and has carried the team offensively. Even in a loss to Indiana, when Colson had to battle against taller IU post players, he still put up a season-best 29 points. He is clearly the only consistent Irish rebounder as well, but to take his game to an even higher level he needs to dish out a few more dimes. Colson only has 14 assists all season, and I think if he can contribute a little more to getting his teammates involved on kick-out passes from the paint it will go a long way to helping Matt Farrell and T.J. Gibbs be more consistent on offense.

Prediction:

Notre Dame 90 - Dartmouth 64

The fighting Irish should have no problems in this one. I look for them to use this game to improve upon some of their recent problems, like starting games slow and rebounding poorly. It’s the perfect time for Coach Brey to try some new things to get the offense going earlier with ACC games coming up very soon.