(20) Notre Dame (20-8) at St. John's (12-16)
Saturday February 25th, 12:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,763) -- New York, New York. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: UND 15-1, SJU 10-6. Away Record: UND 5-3, SJU 2-8. Neutral Record: UND 0-4, SJU 0-2. Conference Record: UND 12-3, SJU 5-10. Series Record: Notre Dame leads, 20-17.
GAME NOTES: The St. John's Red Storm will play their final home regular season game today as they welcome the 20th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the Big Apple for a Big East battle at Madison Square Garden.
Today will be the 38th meeting in history between Notre Dame and St. John's. The Fighting Irish hold a 20-17 all-time lead over the Red Storm after each side defended their turf in last season's home and home series. This is the only scheduled meeting for this season between the conference foes.
Mike Brey led the Fighting Irish to their program record Big East ninth straight win on Wednesday as they picked up a decisive 71-44 victory over West Virginia to improve their overall record to 20-8. Brey's team tied its season- high by making 61.4 percent of its field goals versus the Mountaineers. Notre Dame is now tied for second place in the Big East with Marquette, and will clinch a double-bye in the conference tournament with one win in its final three games. The Fighting Irish's success against conference rivals has been due to a superb defensive effort, as they are holding opponents to just 58.5 ppg in league action.
Jerian Grant is leading the balanced attack for Notre Dame this season with 13.1 points and 4.9 assists per game. Eric Atkins and Jack Cooley are also consistent scorers for the Irish as well. Cooley has connected on 61.9 percent of his field goal tries, which is league leading rate. Atkins had 13 points and eight assists in the blowout victory of West Virginia, while Scott Martin chipped in 15 points against the Mountaineers. Freshman Pat Connaughton has been steadily developing, and was instrumental in the overtime victory over Villanova on Feb. 18th as he scored 21 points and grabbed nine boards.
Without head coach Steve Lavin, the Red Storm are now 4-8 after their 79-72 victory over DePaul on Monday. The win was the second in a row for St. John's, which is now 12-16 overall and 5-10 in Big East play. Assistant coach Mike Dunlap does not have a lot to work with, as the Red Storm's rotation is only six players deep. Despite the lack of depth, St. John's managed to swipe 10 steals and knock down 46.3 percent of its field goals its last time out to beat DePaul.
St. John's has a pair of big-time scoring rookies in D'Angelo Harrison and Moe Harkless. Harrison is leading the team with 16.9 ppg on 37.7 percent shooting from the floor, while Harkless is contributing 15.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. God'sgift Achiuwa, Phil Greene, Amir Garrett, and Sir'Dominic Pointer round out the thin rotation for the Red Storm. Garrett and Greene both scored in double figures their last time out.
Notre Dame's deep and balanced attack is going to be too much for the Red Storm to handle for 40 minutes. The Fighting Irish barely escaped their last road game victorious as they were taken to overtime by the Villanova Wildcats. However, the important aspect is the result, and Notre Dame seems to keep finding ways to win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Notre Dame 73, St. John's 62
02/25 10:35:24 ET