I know what you all have been concerned about, so let me alleviate those fears now — the 2018 Gotham Classic isn’t over after just the one win over Illinois-Chicago, you guys!
The Highlanders enter the game 2-0 on the year, having also defeated UIC and a Division II team called Davis & Elkins. Now, the Highlanders will take on a whole other level of opponent in the Irish, who are 2-0 themselves after decisive wins over the Flames and the Chicago State Cougars.
ND enters the game led by a huge rotation of players that includes 4 freshmen and a transfer sophomore, as well as a few holdover veterans from recent ND teams. The top scorers coming in include
- The 2017-18 Big South Champions, Radford won the Big South conference championship last season, and then defeated LIU Brooklyn in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Villanova (per Alan Wasielewski, Associate Athletics Communication Director)
- This will be the first meeting between Notre Dame and Radford in men’s basketball. The Irish are 4-1 against Big South teams (1-0 vs. Charleston Southern, 3-0 vs. Liberty, 0-1 vs. Winthrop) (per Alan Wasielewski)
- The Irish are 50-57 from the free throw line in two games, good enough to rank fourth in the NCAA (per Alan Wasielewski)
- The four players active in the Notre Dame freshman class (Nate Laszewski, Prentiss Hubb, Robby Carmody, Dane Goodwin) have combined to score 71 points in two games this season - a total that already surpasses three Brey-era rookie classes. The ND bench has combined to score 83 points in the first two games of the season, and that total is the most in the Mike Brey era and the most since 1999, when the Irish totaled 76 bench points vs. St. Peter’s and Elon in successive games (per Alan Wasielewski)
Where: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame, Indiana
When: Wednesday, November 14th at 7:00 PM ET
How to Watch:
- Live Stream: ACC Network Extra
- Radio: Notre Dame Basketball Network (also available on the Notre Dame app)
Radford Highlanders (2-0)
The Highlanders come into this one with a strong team, having won their conference last season and returning three starters from that squad: Carlik Jones, Donald Hicks, and Ed Polite Jr.
Jones is the leader of the group, averaging 24 points, 10 assists, and 4 steals per game through the first couple contests of this season. Hicks is right behind him in terms of contributing firepower, adding 17 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2 assists per game while shooting a blistering 10-of-13 from deep so far this season. Add in 15 points per game with 9-of-14 three-point shooting from Caleb Tanner, 15 points per game from Travis Fields Jr., and a very solid 12.5 points and 12 rebounds per game from Polite Jr., and the Highlanders have a lot of solid talent on the roster.
Rounding out the roster, you’ve got big man Mawdo Sallah (7.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.5 bpg) and guard Devin Hutchinson (7 ppg, 3.5 apg, 2.5 rpg), and all those players combine to form a pretty damn good mid-major opponent for the Irish.
Highlander to Watch
Carlik Jones, Guard, Sophomore
Jones is the ringleader and one of the best returning players for the Highlanders from the crew that won their conference title last season. His scoring, distribution, and defense are second to none, and Radford will need a great game from him if they hope to upset the Irish in South Bend.
Nate Laszewski, Forward, Freshman
I could have gone with a veteran, sure-fire starter here, but instead, I think a big man who can stretch things out and knock down threes is the best possible way for the Irish to do damage against a Radford team with a solid perimeter group but with limited mobility and talent down low. Laszewski will continue to be a huge outside threat, and his jump shot continues to open up the offense in this one.
Like UIC, Radford is a good opponent with some serious talent and with NCAA Tournament aspirations. With that said, I expect TJ Gibbs and DJ Harvey to score a decent amount, and for the ND freshmen to continue playing well. Radford will keep it closer than Irish fans would like, but Notre Dame closes it out with a solid win to improve to 3-0 on the year.
Notre Dame wins this one 85-76.