Well, this isn’t quite the anticipated easy matchup against D-II Chaminade, is it?
After a very strong showing against the Michigan Wolverines that ended sometime after 12:30am this morning, the Tigers find themselves with a huge early season opportunity against a top 15 Fighting Irish squad. Merely having Notre Dame on the schedule is a solid boost to RPI and LSU’s postseason chances, but a win tonight would immediately launch the Tournament campaign and surely draw the attention of the national media.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. The Tigers committed 11 turnovers in the first half of last night’s winning effort, a number that needs to be at least cut in half if the Tigers want a chance at competing this evening. LSU also saw a downturn in free throw shooting, only making 16-23 from the charity stripe last night compared to last week’s 19-20 showing. I get that a change of scenery always messes with shooting, but free throws need to be over 80% tonight. Don’t get me wrong, LSU definitely has a solid chance to win this evening, but they’ll need to play tighter than they’ve looked so far. They’ll need a darn near perfect game.
The Fighting Irish are currently ranked #13 in the AP Top 25, and are regarded as #18 according to KenPom. LSU bumped up to #73 after last night’s win, so a victory for the Tigers tonight would truly be a terrific upset. Notre Dame has a perfect 4-0 record, all against smaller schools, but winning all four by at least 14 points. They have yet to allow more than 66 points in these four contests.
Projected Notre Dame Starting 5
#35 - Bonzie Colson: 20.8ppg, 10.3rpg, 31.0 minutes
#05 - Matt Farrell: 18.3ppg, 3.8apg, 32.0 minutes
#10 - TJ Gibbs: 15.0ppg, 2.8apg, 33.0 minutes
#00 - Rex Pflueger: 6.8ppg, 6.0rpg, 32.0 minutes
#23 - Martinas Geben: 6.5ppg, 5.0rpg, 18.0 minutes
Bonzie Colson has been an absolute beast for the Fighting Irish so far. Not only is he averaging a double-double, Colson leads Notre Dame in scoring, rebounding, and blocking with 12 through four games. Matt Farrell isn’t far behind Colson in production, averaging over 18 points and leading his team with 15 assists on the season. Another player to keep an eye on will be #3 DJ Harvey, who’s averaging 10.3 points and 20.3 minutes. You can read more pregame material from our friends over at One Foot Down, they’ve got a pretty good preview and a relatively humble prediction.
Tonight’s contest will tip off at 5:30pm Maui time, 9:30pm Baton Rouge time. It will be broadcast on television via ESPN, on radio via 98.1 FM, or you can follow along and join in the discussion in the comments below, or follow my live Twitter ramblings @marq113.