Notre Dame Men's Basketball 2013 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Big East (25-9, 11-7)

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Would anyone have guessed that Mike Brey is third all-time in Big East victories?  That is really saying something when you coach basketball at Notre Dame.  He has done more recently at the football school than the football program has (though obviously things are turning around).  Brey’s teams always play with pace and heart and 2012-2013 is no different.  He has a pesky team that gives opponents fits.  Once again, this team is in good position heading into the postseason.  They are not the best team on paper, but they are in the top half of the Big East standings and primed for a strong showing in the NCAA tournament.

Big Wins: 11/29 Kentucky (64-50), 2/9 Louisville (104-101), 2/8 at Pittsburgh (51-42)
Bad Losses: 11/16 vs St. Joseph’s (70-79), 1/15 at St. John’s (63-67), 2/16 at Providence (54-71)
Coach: Mike Brey (13 seasons at Notre Dame)

Why They Can Surprise:
They can surprise because they are well-coached and they are one of the scrappiest teams around.  They do not necessarily strike you as the most talented team, but they get it done on the floor.  They play great team basketball and seem to know where their teammates are at all times.  They also have great balance.  Jack Cooley and Tom Knight hold things down on the inside.  Outside, players like Scott Martin and Pat Connaughton can stroke it from behind the line.  Point guard Eric Atkins has a motor that goes on forever.  He played all but two minutes in the Louisville 5 overtime thriller.  The biggest strength of this team is their ability not to turn the ball over.  They have the best assist to turnover ratio in the country.  They also average nearly 18 assists per game as a team, easily the best mark in the conference (second nationally).  The roster is full of smart shooters.  They are in the top two in the conference in field goal percentage from two- and three-point range.  They are fundamentally sound.

Why They Can Disappoint:
The Irish are not the most physically imposing team in the country.  They can be outmanned by bigger, stronger players under the basket.  As good of a shooting team as they are, Notre Dame is notorious for going completely cold from the floor at random times.  The game against Pittsburgh in mid-February saw the team score only three points in the first 14 minutes of the game.  They ended up rallying to win, but in a one-and-done situation, that sort of performance is disastrous.  Defensively, Notre Dame is average at best.  Their opponents score about 63 points per game and shoot over 41 percent from the field.  They have gotten themselves into some barnburners because they cannot stop the other team when it counts.  Also, if Atkins gets into foul trouble, they do not have a backup to run the offense at the level he does.  The Irish are very disciplined when it comes to fouling, but if Atkins goes out, they will be in dire straits.

Probable Starters:
Jack Cooley, Senior, Forward, 13.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.2 bpg
Tom Knight, Senior, Forward, 5.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Eric Atkins, Junior, Guard, 11.4 ppg, 5.6 apg, 2.6 rpg
Jerian Grant, Junior, Guard, 13.4 ppg, 5.6 apg, 2.8 rpg
Pat Connaughton, Sophomore, Guard-Forward, 9.0 ppg, 2.2 apg, 4.7 rpg

Key Roleplayers:
Zach Auguste, Freshman, Forward, 3.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Scott Martin, Senior, Guard, 7.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg
Garrick Sherman, Junior, Center, 7.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Cameron Biedscheid, Freshman, Forward, 6.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.7 (95th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.9 (81, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.0 (27, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.5 (114, 12)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (133, 3)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.9 (58, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.6 (163, 7)
Rebound Margin: 4.6 (48, 4)
Assists Per Game: 17.5 (2, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.1 (25, 3)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
2012    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Xavier
2011    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Akron
2011    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to Florida State
2010    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Old Dominion
2009    NIT        First Round win over UAB
2009    NIT         Second Round win over New Mexico
2009    NIT        Quarterfinal win over Kentucky
2009    NIT         Semifinal loss to Penn State
2008    NCAA    Round of 64 win over George Mason
2008    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to Washington State
2007    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Winthrop

*all team stats through 3/10


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