Monday, May 7, 2012
Mama Says, Road Games are the Devil
Yes Bobby, you're mama is right, Big East road games are the devil! They're so much of a pain that the combined overall record of conference away teams is 8-29. That's a 21.6 winning percentage. So Irish fans, I wouldn't get too upset about last week's loss to Marquette. The Big East Conference is for real, and other coaches, the media, and, more importantly, the NCAA selection committee is noticing.
Currently, the Big East is the third-best conference in the RPI ratings, behind the ACC and the Pac-10. When comparing each conference's road success, it is not close. The success rate of winning on the road is 37.5% and 44%, respectively for the ACC and Pac-10. So it's very difficult to win on the road in the Big East. What makes this even more mind boggling is that the Big East expanded the league schedule from 16 games to 18, YIKES!
The two most impressive road victories so far goes to Cincinnati, who beat Louisville, and Providence, which won at Connecticut. Below is a breakdown of Big East Conference Road Records:
Louisville 1-0 (Rutgers)
Georgetown 2-1 (Rutgers and DePaul)
Pittsburgh 1-1 (South Florida)
DePaul 1-1 (St. John's)
Providence 1-2 (Connecticut)
Cincinnati 1-2 (Louisville)
Connecticut 1-2 (Seton Hall)
Notre Dame 0-1
W. Virginia 0-2
Seton Hall 0-2
S. Florida 0-3
St. John's 0-3
The Irish are holding still at the number 8 seed in both the ESPN.com Bracketology and CBSSportsline.com's mock NCAA Bracket's. According to Joe Lunardi, the Irish would face 9 seed Arkansas, and a possible matchup with # 1 seed Kansas. On CBSSportsline.com, Garry Parrish has Drake, Miami, and Ohio State as possible first round opponents for Brey's boys.
If the season ended today, the Big East would send eight teams to the Dance, which is more than any conference. Below is the rest of the conference's projected seedings:
Marquette 3 (East), 3 (CBSSportsline.com)
Georgetown 2 (South), 5 (CBSSportsline.com)
Pittsburgh 5 (West), 4 (CBSSportsline.com)
Notre Dame 8 (Midwest), 8 (CBSSportsline.com)
Louisville 10 (Midwest), 8 (CBSSportsline.com)
W. Virginia 9 (East), 9 (CBSSportsline.com)
Connecticut 10 (West), 10 (CBSSportsline.com)
Villanova 12 (South), 10 (CBSSportsline.com)
Notre Dame will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak to the Hoyas when it travels to Washington, D.C. The Hoyas lead the all-time series 13-10. The last Irish victory (70-64) in the series was at the Joyce Center on February 16, 2005. The last win for the Irish at the Verizon Center was on March 8, 2003, 86-80.
Notre Dame is 8-3 all-time in games played at the Verizon Center (formerly the MCI Center) and 6-2 all-time under head coach Mike Brey (3-2 versus the Hoyas). With a good contingent of loyal alumni in the DC area, it is imperative that the Irish don't fall behind early like last season's game. Minimizing turnovers and establishing the low post with Luke Harangody will be a good start in helping Notre Dame get their first road victory of the season.
Guards Kyle McAlarney and Tory Jackson have to be on their "A" game by nailing open shots and penetrating the lane. Rob Kurz will have to put up his workman like numbers, while Ryan Ayers needs to step up and create some offense for the Irish. Defensively, Notre Dame will have a heck of a time defending center Roy Hibbert. Even though he has not put up impressive numbers, Hibbert has given the Irish fits in the past. Look for Notre Dame to mix it up with some zone, to go along with their man-to-man defense.
The key component for Notre Dame will be their offensive execution and bench play. If the Irish can start off where they left off against Cincinnati, they will be in good shape. Also the play of Jonathan Peoples, Luke Zellar, and Zach Hillesland will be vital for what is the most important game of the season so far. There are a plenty of big "ifs" tomorrow, and I'm not sure if they can string together a complete 40 minutes on the road yet. But DC has been good to the Irish in the past, especially under Brey:
1-27-01 vs. Georgetown W 78-71
2-9-02 vs. Georgetown W-4ot 116-111
12-7-02 vs. Maryland W 79-67 (BB&T Classic)
12-8-02 vs. Texas W 98-92 (BB&T Classic)
3-8-03 vs. Georgetown W 86-80
1-23-05 vs. Georgetown L 54-55
12-3-06 vs. Maryland W 81-74
1-6-07 vs. Georgetown L 48-66
With first place in league standings on the line, I don't see the Irish prevailing. Tomorrow will not be their first road win of the season, however, a struggling Villanova squad a week later in Philadelphia will be prime picking for Notre Dame.
Prediction: Georgetown 77 Notre Dame 71