By Julio Salazar | Staff Writer
December 2, 2015
NOTRE DAME, IN- Off to a strong December start, Irish eyes were smiling as #17 Notre Dame traveled to the Disney Wide World of Sports for the 2015 Advocare Invitational Tournament. Unfortunately, the Florida heat proved too hot for Mike Brey’s 16th squad. On Thanksgiving night, unranked Monmouth stunned the Irish 70-68, dropping Notre Dame into the Loser’s Bracket. There, Notre Dame defeated Iowa 68-62. However, in the 5th place game Sunday night, the Irish again fell to an unranked team in Alabama, 74-73. There were glaring problems with the team: bad offensive production, shoddy defense, poor free throw shooting, and a lack of leadership. The bright spot for the tournament was VJ Beachem, the ND MVP of the Tournament. There is concern for this 5-3 Notre Dame team. That being said, the Irish will look to turn a brighter page into the month of December.
The University of Notre Dame Athletic Department released the Men’s Basketball Schedule; find it here. This monthly post will look ahead at the Irish schedule and make predictions. Let’s get started with December.
Prediction Record for Salazar: 5-2
December 2, 2015 @ Illinois (Big 10/ACC Challenge): The first game in the recently renovated State Farm Center, both teams will look to rebound after a disappointing November. Illinois will be without big man Mike Thorne Jr., who is probably out for the season after a meniscus tear. Both of these teams see this game as a must-win. Thorne’s injury is too much to overcome; Irish start off December with a win.
December 8, 2015 vs. Stony Brook: Possibly the best team in the America East Conference, Stony Brook took #17 Vanderbilt into overtime, though the game resulted in a Seawolves loss. Back home at Purcell Pavilion after a rough few weeks, expect the Irish to win this game.
December 13, 2015 vs. Loyola (Chicago): Another game at Purcell against a team not yet ready for the big-time. Loyola’s top scorer in Doyle is averaging 14.0 points, while ND’s Demetrius Jackson averages 18.3. Notre Dame holds the advantage in rebounds (Auguste’s 10.7 to James’ 5.6) and in assists (Jackson’s 4.5 to Peterson’s 3.6). Too much Irish offense will overwhelm the Ramblers, Irish win.
December 19, 2015 vs. Indiana Hoosiers (Crossroads Classic, Bankers Life Fieldhouse): Not the matchup it appeared it would be earlier in the season, but an interesting game nonetheless. Both teams were highly vaunted teams with huge offensive possibilities. Indiana’s defense has proven to be phenomenally bad, a piece that has dropped the team from the top 15 to unranked. While the Irish have not lived up to their offensive hype, they have been playing better defense (except in crucial last minute situations.) Indiana will score a lot of points, enough to outlast the Irish. Indiana wins.
December 21, 2015 vs. Youngstown State: The worst team in the Horizon League, coming off a 2-14 conference record. The Penguins pose not upset threat; Notre Dame gets the W heading into Christmas.
December 29, 2015 vs. Liberty: Notre Dame will finish 2015 with a home game against a young Liberty team. Coach Ritchie McKay is a great young talent, but perhaps too ambitious. His complicated defensive schemes might be too much for young players to handle. UPSET ALERT. This game will be close, but Irish pull through.
Look for Monthly Predictions: January later in December, as Notre Dame begins ACC play.