Game Preview: Hartford At No. 14 Notre Dame; 7:30 p.m. ET


The No. 14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish return to action tonight as they take on the Hartford Hawks of the America East Conference at Purcell Pavillion tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET. It will be the first game for the Irish since their win over NIU on December 22nd. This will be the first of three games in a seven-day span, closing with an ESPN Big Monday matchup against North Carolina.

The Irish (12-1) are riding an eight game win-streak, their longest since they won 12 straight during the 2012-13 season. The start also matches their best 13 game beginning to a season in Mike Brey’s 15 seasons (2002-03, 2006-07, 2010-11, 2012-13). While it’s the highest ranking since they were No. 5 in the AP Poll entering the tournament in 2011, they’re yet to play a team that received a single vote in this weeks AP voting. Hartford isn’t going to change that.

The Hawks (7-5, 0-1) will be facing the irish for the first time in their history. Against current teams that make up the ACC, the Hawks are 1-20. The 7-5 start is the second-best in the programs history. Mark Nwakamma will be the man for the Irish to keep an eye on, as he comes off AEC Player of the Week for the week of December 15. He averaged 20.5 ppg over the week, including a career best 29 against Holy Cross.

The Irish continue to lead the nation if field goal percentage at 55.6, and all fie starters are shooting 49 percent or better. The only one below 50 percent is Pat Connaughton, but he’s more than made up for that on the boards. Connaughton is 17th nationally, and second in the conference with 7.0 rpg. Add to that he has never missed a game in his Irish career, as well as mixing in some minor league baseball for the Baltimore Orioles.

This will be the final non-conference game for the Irish, as they’ll face Georgia Tech and then North Carolina in ACC play. They did get an early conference foe in against Florida State, dominating the Seminoles in the 20-point victory.

The game will be carried on ESPN3, as well as broadcast for free on WatchND. Tip is scheduled for 7:30 p.m ET at Purcell Pavillion.