Foe: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (16-12)(7-9)
Recent History: Villanova leads the all-time series 16-14. Last season Notre Dame won in a high scoring game at the Wachovia Center 90-80. The Irish were led by the inside/outside combo of Luke Harangody (25 points, 10 rebounds) and Kyle McAlarney (30 points, 5 assists). Nova was led by Antonio Pena's 17 points and 9 rebounds. Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher scored 13 points each, and Stokes added 11. The only significant player Notre Dame lost from last year is Rob Kurz. Other than that, this is essentially the same team. Tory Jackson runs the point (10.9 ppg, 5.2 apg). They have two sharpshooting wingmen: McAlarney (16.1 ppg, 43% 3pt) and Ryan Ayers (10.9 ppg, 42% 3pt). And finally, Luke Harangody dominants the middle (23.6 ppg, 12.3 rpg).
Best Win: 90-57 vs. #7 Louisville
Worst Loss: 71-65 at St. John's
Famous Alumni: Basketball: Digger Phelps, Troy Murphy, Matt Carroll, Chris Quinn, Rob Kurz
Other: Ted Leo, William Mapother (Ethan from "Lost"), George Wendt, Condoleezza Rice, Regis Philbin, Hannah Storm, Steve Bartman, Tim Brown, Joe Montana, Brady Quinn, Ryan Grant, Mike Golic, Joe Theismann
- Named national champions in 1927 and 1936.
- Went to Final Four in 1978.
- First Big East team to go undefeated at home two consecutive seasons.
Complimentary Youtube Video:
Final Verdict: Harangody is the leading scorer, rebounder, and one of the best big men in the Big East, but I'm more worried about McAlarney in this game. You know Harangody is going to get his 20 and 10 no matter what, but Villanova can't afford to let McAlarney get hot from 3-point range. I assume Reggie Redding will be assigned to guard McAlarney. Redding will have his hands full, but he has had some success in shutting down perimeter scorers this season. Antonio Pena may be called upon to play a larger role. He had a good game against Notre Dame last year, and Nova will need some big bodies to throw at Harangody.
Notre Dame is very good at home, and the Irish are much better than their 16-12 record would indicate. They are in the same boat as Georgetown, with their backs against the wall, needing to basically win out to have any chance to make the NCAA Tournament. I would have been a lot more worried about this game if Nova beat Georgetown. However, coming off a tough loss like that, I think Villanova is going to come out and play their best basketball, which will be too much for the Fighting Irish.
TV: ESPN 7:00 PM
Links: Game Notes, AP, VUH, IBBW, LGN, VBTN, VV