The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Syracuse Orange will face off tonight in Purcell Pavilion at 7:00 pm ET on ESPNews. Syracuse is coming off a home overtime win against Georgia Tech (74-73) on Monday and Notre Dame is trying to bounce back after a deflating loss to Wake Forest on Saturday (79-74).
The Irish will try to get back to their identity defensively after failing to show the last two times out. There is one positive though, postseason hopes were not dashed with the loss in Winston-Salem. Joe Lunardi still has the Irish pitted as a 9 seed and they are still firmly in the second-place spot in the ACC. It did however make it imperative that they take care of business these final four games to guarantee a spot in the dance. The teams they will face have a combined conference record of 26-41 and three of the four will be at home. This team has shown the ability to bounce back throughout the season and tonight will be a test of that.
Scoring wise Syracuse is no Kentucky, Duke, or Wake Forest. They are, however, no slouch either averaging 77.3 ppg. Notre Dame has been tested defensively the last two games and I expect that to continue tonight.
The question will be can the Irish not only bounce back from a loss but also bounce back defensively after being pushed around a bit the last week. The offense has been picking up some of the slack but it wasn’t quite enough to get a win on Saturday. Droughts still occur with this team and having a reliable defense is a big safety net for when scoring becomes a difficult task. After the Wake Forest game, when asked about his comfort level with this team’s ability to respond, Coach Brey said “Of course, we haven’t been in a bounce-back mode much. When we have, we’ve delivered. That’s where we’re at with a Syracuse team coming in here on Monday.” He also added “I have full confidence in this group. They’re in the midst of chasing some things they’ve never done before. They’ll rally and be ready for practice.”
I’m going to agree with him. This team has shown its ability to be resilient during games and throughout the season. I believe the march to March begins tonight with a win against the Orange.
Notre Dame 71, Syracuse 63