The young and inexperienced Irish will have to labor through a daunting conference schedule without senior and defensive anchor Rex Pflueger, who tore his ACL in a win against Purdue. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish responded to Pflueger’s injury with back-to-back wins and still have one more game before that conference schedule starts, and it might be the only game left this season where Pflueger’s absence won’t be highly noticeable.
Winless Coppin State comes into town on Saturday afternoon, serving as a light appetizer for Notre Dame fans before another Irish game that has been talked about just a bit around campus and on national television of late. Tipoff is at noon, while Notre Dame football kicks off in the College Football Playoff at 4 p.m., so Irish fans and students could still pack the Joyce Center and get back to their TVs in time for kickoff in Dallas. To keep the focus on the hardwood, even without Pflueger, the Irish should theoretically have no problem with this one.
- ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Irish a 99 percent chance to get the home win on Saturday. The other one percent likely accounting for the possibility that the Irish decide to tailgate for the football game instead of showing up to play.
- Coppin State has started the season with 14-straight losses, dropping their games by an average of 24.1 points. It’s been a rough go for the Eagles so far.
- The Irish exploded for 18 three-pointers in their win against Jacksonville before the holiday break, the fourth-most in team history. Coppin State is allowing opponents to shoot over 41 percent from beyond the arc this season.
Where: Purcell Pavilion - Notre Dame, Indiana
When: Saturday, December 29th a 12:00 PM ET
How to Watch: TV: ACC Network Extra
Live Stream: WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app
Radio: Notre Dame Basketball Network (also available on the Notre Dame app) - with Jack Nolan and Zach Hillesland
Coppin State Eagles (0-14)
Again, it’s been a brutal showing for the Eagles so far this season. Their last game was a 44-point performance against 21st-ranked Houston, but other blowouts like a 20-point loss to Rider and a 34-point defeat at the hands of Wofford have been even more troubling. Their non-conference slate hasn’t been easy by any means (Houston, Virginia, Dayton among their opponents), but the Eagles have still failed to show up against teams that could present winnable games. A goose egg still hangs in their win column.
One of Coppin State’s main problems is an inability to take care of the ball, as the Eagles average just under 17 turnovers per game. This results in a bunch of easy buckets in transition, digging a hole the Eagles can never climb out of, considering they’re shooting just 25.6 percent from three as a team. Build a comfortable lead against the Eagles, and you can start planning your postgame meal.
Eagle to Watch
Lamar Morgan, Senior, Guard
The only Eagle to be averaging double figures in scoring this season (at exactly 10 points per game), the senior Morgan leads the offense, but in underwhelming fashion. His shooting numbers are down across the board from last year, as he’s averaging just 35 percent from the field and 26 percent from three. The Irish defense can likely keep a cushion at the perimeter and keep Morgan’s drives in check.
Nate Laszewski, Forward, Freshman
Coppin State struggles because like many teams in the MEAC, size is hard to come by. The lanky Laszewski lit it up from downtown against Jacksonville, connecting on four of his six three-point attempts, and he should have no problem shooting over the Eagles’ perimeter defense. I see Laszewski logging extra minutes in a blowout win, allowing him to get his shots from deep, and he’ll have little trouble finding a rhythm.