#24 Notre Dame Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #24
Conference Rank: #5 ACC
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Notre Dame made their third straight NCAA Tournament last year, but failed to advance past the first weekend for the first time since 2014. The Fighting Irish entered last season with tempered expectations, but continued to compete in the ACC under Mike Brey. This year, ACC Player of the Year contender Bonzie Colson will lead Notre Dame as they look to remain in the top half of the conference. Brey has historically built his teams around experience over top recruits, and this year will be no different. The Fighting Irish should find themselves in familiar territory this year, near the top of the ACC standings. 
2016-17 Record: 26-10, 12-6
2016-17 Postseason:
NCAA Tournament
Mike Brey
Coach Record:
382-187 at Notre Dame, 482-239 overall
Who’s Out:
The Fighting Irish only lose three contributors from last season, but that includes two of their top four scorers. Steve Vasturia has graduated after a four-year career at Notre Dame. Vasturia made 122 starts for the Fighting Irish, amassing 1,400+ points which is 22nd in school history. Vasturia was the team’s senior leader last year, averaging 13.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals, all career highs. V.J. Beachem has also graduated after spending four years at Notre Dame. Beachem played 132 games in his career, making 73 starts and scoring 1,200+ points. Efficiency wasn’t Beachem’s strong suit as a senior, as he shot just 42.2% from the field on 12.3 shots per game. However, Beachem did average a career-high 14.5 points per game, good enough for second on the team. Lastly, Matt Ryan elected to transfer after two seasons with the Irish. Ryan, primarily known as a sharpshooter, played just 7.9 minutes per game as a sophomore, which led to his transfer this offseason.
Who’s In:
Mike Brey has added just two newcomers to the roster this season. Nikola Djogo will see action this year after redshirting his first season at Notre Dame. Djogo is a 6-7 guard out of Toronto who was a three-star recruit a year ago. DJ Harvey is the lone class of 2017 recruit joining the Irish this year. Harvey is a 6-6 guard and was a four-star, top-50 prospect. Harvey will be able to give the Irish valuable minutes right away. Harvey and Djogo each bring shooting and backcourt depth to Notre Dame, which will be needed with the losses of Vasturia and Beachem.
Who to Watch:
Bonzie Colson will be the star of the Fighting Irish this season, just as he was a year ago. As a junior, Colson earned All-America third team and All-ACC first team honors. Colson led Notre Dame in points (17.8), rebounds (10.1), and blocks (1.4). Colson stands just 6-6 but is one of the best power forwards in the nation. As a senior this year, Colson is a legitimate threat to win ACC Player of the Year. Matt Farrell will join Colson as the leaders of the team. Farrell had a breakout junior season, going from 2.6 points per game as a sophomore to 14.1 per game last year. Farrell is one of the best passers in the nation, showcased by his 5.4 assists per game. Farrell is the undisputed conductor of the Irish offense. Temple Gibbs and Rex Pflueger are two role players who will see increased roles as regular starters this year. Gibbs had a solid freshman season averaging 4.7 points, 1.7 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 15 minutes per game. Now, Gibbs will be in position to emerge as a sophomore as he replaces Vasturia in the starting lineup. Pflueger averaged 4.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists as a sophomore. Pflueger will have to replace Beachem in the lineup, and will often be asked to defend the opponent’s best scorer. Martinas Geben will return after starting 23 games at center a year ago. Geben averaged just 3.1 points and 3.4 rebounds, and will be expected to do more as a senior. Austin Torres, Elijah Burns and John Mooney round out the returning role players for Notre Dame. Burns is a player who could see an improvement this year. Burns was injured his freshman year, then played just 11 games last year, but he’s a versatile 6-8 forward who could help Notre Dame this season.
Final Projection:
Notre Dame should find themselves in familiar territory, as a top-25 team near the top of the ACC standings. The Fighting Irish have some tough losses in Steve Vasturia and VJ Beachem, but returning All-ACC member Bonzie Colson will help ease the transition. Colson and fellow senior Matt Farrell have the talent to lead Notre Dame to an impressive season, but they will need help from the somewhat unproven supporting cast. If players like Temple Gibbs and Rex Pflueger step up as starters, the Irish will have a well-rounded team. However, if Mike Brey doesn’t develop his depth pieces, Notre Dame could quickly slip in the dangerous ACC.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament
Projected Starting Five:
Matt Farrell, Senior, Guard, 14.1 points per game

Temple Gibbs, Sophomore, Guard, 4.7 points per game
Rex Pflueger, Junior, Guard, 4.7 points per game
Bonzie Colson, Senior, Forward, 17.8 points per game
Martinas Geben, Senior, Center, 3.1 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.3 (78th in nation, 7th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 69.3 (98, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.8 (94, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.2 (142, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.3 (29, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.4 (38, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 80.0 (1, 1)
Rebound Margin: -1.8 (257, 14)
Assists Per Game: 15.7 (42, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.5 (2, 1)
Madness 2018 NBA Draft Rankings:
#53 Bonzie Colson
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#48 D.J. Harvey