NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (18-4)
at SYRACUSE ORANGE (18-3)
Carrier Dome - Syracuse, NY
Tip-off: Monday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Syracuse -8.5, Total: 133.5
Slumping Syracuse looks to end a two-game losing skid when it hosts surging Notre Dame on Monday night. The Orange have won 35 straight home games, the longest streak in Division-I.
The Irish have racked up three straight victories, including two on the road. They committed just seven turnovers in Saturday's 79-71 overtime win at DePaul. The Orange lost 65-55 at Pittsburgh on Saturday, dropping them to 1-5 ATS in the past six games. But Syracuse is a perfect 13-0 SU (6-3 ATS) at home this season, outscoring visitors by 25.2 PPG. These schools met just once last season, resulting in a 67-58 Notre Dame home win over the Orange who were ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time. This snapped a three-game series win streak (SU and ATS) for Syracuse who had beaten the Irish by 19, 13 and 12 points in these previous meetings.
Can the Orange extend their home win streak and cover the big number on Monday? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Gary is 7-4 ATS (64%) in his past five days of Best Bets, boosting his season record to 56% ATS (69-55-1). StatFox Dave has gone 13-9 ATS (59.1%) in the past seven days to move to 53.1% ATS (112-99-3) for the season.
Notre Dame doesn't have an explosive offense (73.0 PPG, 61st in nation), but rarely takes bad shots, making 49.3% FG (9th in D-I), including 39.6% from three-point range (17th in nation). The Irish also commit the fourth-fewest amount of fouls per game (12.9) and outrebound opponents by +4.3 RPG. PF Jack Cooley is one of the best big men in the nation with 15.0 PPG and 11.3 RPG (5th in nation). He makes 58.8% FG (11th in D-I) and has 14 double-doubles on the season. In the past two games, Cooley has totaled 43 points and 32 rebounds, and he also recorded a double-double in the win over Syracuse last season with 17 points and 10 boards. Besides Cooley, Notre Dame also has one of the better backcourts in the country with the duo of SG Jerian Grant (12.6 PPG, 5.6 APG) and Eric Atkins (11.8 PPG, 6.2 APG). Grant has been on a feeding frenzy in his past five games with 7.2 APG, but is shooting just 39.6% FG over this stretch. Atkins had only 7.7 PPG in his final three games in January, but started off February with 16 points, five assists and four steals in Saturday's win at DePaul. Atkins has the sixth-best Ast/TO ratio in the nation (3.04) and also contributes 1.8 SPG on the defensive end. Two other key contributors for the Irish are SG Pat Connaughton (9.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG) and SF Cameron Biedscheid (7.5 PPG). Connaughton was scoreless in last Wednesday's win over Villanova, but contributed eight points and five rebounds on Saturday. Biedscheid has 12.5 PPG in his past two games, dropping 18 points against 'Nova. SF Scott Martin (7.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG), who shoots 46.3% from three-point land, remains out with a knee injury.
Syracuse has the 7th-highest scoring margin in the land (+16.7 PPG) with a top-40 offense (76.0 PPG, 32nd in nation) and defense (59.3 PPG allowed, 34th in D-I). The Orange rank fifth in the nation in FG Pct. defense (36.4%) thanks to their 2-3 zone, which allows a mere 28.3% threes to opponents (9th-best in nation). They also block 6.9 shots per game (5th in D-I) and rack up 10.0 steals per game (7th in nation). PG Michael Carter-Williams leads the nation with 8.6 APG and ranks fourth with 2.95 SPG. But his shooting percentages continue to be subpar at 35.9% FG and 27.5% 3-pt FG. He is just 7-of-29 FG (24%) during his team's two-game losing skid. Carter-Williams also has 19 turnovers in the past four contests. SG Brandon Triche leads Syracuse with 14.9 PPG and adds 3.4 APG and 3.4 RPG. He was outstanding in the loss at Villanova last week (23 points, four assists, one turnovers), but played pretty terribly at Pittsburgh with 14 points (4-of-14 shooting), one assist and six turnovers. Junior SF C.J. Fair (13.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG) is the team's most consistent player with 11 straight double-figure scoring games. He pumped in 20 points on 9-of-13 FG in Saturday's defeat. With F James Southerland (13.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG) suspended indefinitely, freshman F Jerami Grant has seen a lot more action lately, logging all 40 minutes in Saturday's loss despite scoring just five points on 1-of-8 shooting. Sophomore PF Rakeem Christmas (6.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG) played 40 minutes against Villanova and finished with nine points and 10 rebounds, but logged just 21 minutes at Pittsburgh with zero shots and three fouls. He did post three blocks though, and will likely be guarding Cooley for a good portion of Monday's game. Syracuse has been outrebounded in three straight games.