NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (12-10)
at SYRACUSE ORANGE (21-0)
Carrier Dome - Syracuse, NY
Tip-off: Monday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Syracuse -12, Total: 131
Coming off a thrilling overtime victory against Duke to remain undefeated, the new No. 1 team in the nation Syracuse will play host to another new ACC newcomer and old Big East foe, when it faces Notre Dame on Monday night.
The Orange enter this one as heavy favorites against a Notre Dame team that is just 3-6 SU (2-7 ATS) in its first season in the ACC and a pitiful 6-13-1 ATS overall (32%). However, the Fighting Irish were able to snap their three-game losing skid by edging Boston College in overtime on Saturday, 76-73. They failed the cover the 6.5-point spread though, making them 1-7 ATS since a shocking upset of Duke to begin conference action back on Jan. 4. Notre Dame is a dreadful 6-13-1 ATS this season, though 4-3 ATS (1-6 SU) in non-home games and 5-3 ATS in the underdog role (1-10-1 ATS when favored). And Mike Brey is 23-8 ATS (74%) coming off a win by three points or less against a conference rival since taking over the Fighting Irish program. Syracuseís 91-89 overtime victory against Duke on Saturday snapped a six-game ATS winning streak for the Orange, who are now 8-0 SU (6-2 ATS) in their new conference. They are 12-5 ATS overall (71%) and 5-4 ATS at the Carrier Dome. They are also 7-0 ATS after a game when they committed eight or fewer turnovers this season. Formerly in the Big East together, Syracuse holds a 15-6 SU (11-9-1 ATS) advantage in this series since 2000, including 8-2 SU (6-4 ATS) at home, and has gone 4-1 SU and ATS in the past five meetings against Notre Dame overall. But the one defeat during this stretch came two seasons ago in South Bend when the Irish beat the No. 1-ranked Orange who were 20-0 at the time by a score of 67-58.
Can Syracuse stay unbeaten with an easy victory on Monday? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 60% ATS (188-127-5) mark, including a stellar 63% ATS (156-93-3) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 65% ATS (41-22-2) in Best Bets for the season and 69% ATS (34-15-1) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 62% ATS (39-24-1) for the season and 71% ATS (22-9) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Scott is a hefty 59% ATS (38-26-1) for the season and 62% ATS (28-17-1) since Dec. 2. StatFox Zach is a strong 58% ATS (36-26-2) on Best Bets this season, including 61% ATS (30-19-1) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Gary is 54% ATS (34-29-2) for the season, and 58% ATS (28-20) since Nov. 29.
The Fighting Irish are respectable on the offensive end, scoring 75.3 PPG (84th in nation) on 46.1% FG (91st in Div. I) and 15.9 APG (23rd in nation). They outrebound their opponents by 3.5 RPG, but give up 70.9 PPG (202nd in Div. I) on 44.9% FG and 36.9% threes, numbers that are far from elite. The teamís struggles in ACC play are not surprising, as they lost their leading scorer and assist-maker PG Jerian Grant (19.0 PPG, 6.2 APG) due to academic issues. The most important piece in Grant's absence is senior SG Eric Atkins (14.3 PPG, 4.8 APG), who is now the teamís leading passer and second-leading scorer. He scored 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting to lift the Fighting Irish past Boston College on Saturday, but was held to nine points, five rebounds, four assists and four turnovers at the Carrier Dome last season. Senior C Garrick Sherman (14.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG) is the teamís top scorer and rebounder, though he is averaging just 7.5 PPG and 5.5 RPG over the teamís past two games with more fouls (eight) than made field goals (six). Junior swingman Pat Connaughton (13.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG) complements him well with his shooting ability, hitting 39% of his treys and 2.5 per game. He knocked down 4-of-9 threes in Saturday's win, finishing with 17 points and nine rebounds. Atkins and Connaughton struggled in last yearís 63-47 loss to Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, going a combined 5-of-14 from the field for 13 points.
Syracuse doesnít put up impressive offensive numbers with 72.3 PPG (159th in Div. I) on 46.1% shooting (92nd in nation) and 12.8 APG (172nd in Div. I). Where Jim Boeheimís team thrives is on the defensive end, yielding 59.3 PPG (9th in Div. I) on 40.9% FG while compiling 8.9 steals per game (11th in Div. I). The 89 points the Orange surrendered to Duke were the most they gave up all season, and marked just the third time an opponent cracked 70 points against them. Freshman PG Tyler Ennis (12.4 PPG, 5.6 APG) runs the offense and paces the defense with 2.3 SPG. He boasts a brilliant 3.9 Ast/TO ratio this season with nine assists and just two turnovers in Saturday's win, where he also was 8-for-8 from the foul line. His top passing target is SF C.J. Fair (17.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.5 SPG), who dropped a career-high 28 points on 12-of-20 shooting against the Blue Devils and scored a game-high 18 points with 10 boards last season against Notre Dame. Down low, heís paired with sophomore PF Jerami Grant (13.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG), who also had a big game against Duke with a career-high 24 points on 7-of-11 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds for the second straight contest. Grant also gave the Irish fits last season with 14 points (6-of-8 FG) and six rebounds in the home victory. SG Trevor Cooney (13.2 PPG, 2.1 SPG) rounds out the teamís double-digit scorers, hitting 41% threes on 6.9 attempts per game, making 2.8 of those.