The Orange are currently 6th in the country, but lost to Pittsburgh Saturday and will fall 5-6 spots in the top 25. Notre Dame dropped out of the rankings last week after they lost to St. Johns and Georgetown. Syracuse is the best team the Irish have faced to this point in the season. With Notre Dame being only a half a game back of 1st place in the Big East this turns out to be a very important game.
The Orange are 18-3 and 6-2 in the Big East coming of two straight losses to Villanova and Pittsburgh. In both of those losses they shot 37% or lower. They rank 103rd in the country in shooting percentage (.448). Struggling like this should give Notre Dame a game plan to go with, which should be make them shoot jumpers. Keep them away from the basket and contest mid to long range shots.
Statistically it will come down to rebounding the basketball in my opinion, because outside of Cooley no one really rebounds for the Irish. Notre Dame ranks 155th in rebounding with 35.5 a game. Syracuse ranks 10th in rebounds with 41.1 per game, so what right? Wrong, 6 more rebounds can turn into many more points especially if they happen to be offensive.
Brandon Triche and C.J. Fair are the scoring threats for the Orange this season. Triche has been struggling from behind the arc only shooting 32%. Fair does lead the team in rebounds with 7 a game and is a versatile forward that can play both inside and out. The x factor will be the Orange point guard Michael Carter-Williams who averages 8.6 assists per game, since they have had trouble shooting the ball lately Williams will need to play well to find cutters to the basket. Notre Dame will force Syracuse to continue their shooting slump and out rebound them to win 69-66.