The adorable poodle has made its selection. Who are you to argue with the adorable poodle?
I have just a couple of thoughts on Saturday's game, and since I'll be braving the conditions tonight outside Gampel, I thought I'd put this up now. So you're on your own for reading the Courant preview, folks. If only we had an updated blogroll...
The game: Notre Dame (16-11, 7-8) at #2 UConn (26-2, 14-2)
The place: The actual home for UConn basketball, Storrs
The time: 2 p.m.
The media: CBS (TV), WTIC 1080-AM, WHUS 91.7 FM (radio)
CBS is bringing out the big guns: Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg, the Final Four announcing duo. I'll be sure to try and pry Jim's thought-out-in-advance call for if UConn were to win a championship.
Also, a special shout out to Rush The Court, one of the national college hoops blogs (and one that's a daily stop for me). The site will have a representative at Gampel at the media table near the student section. In addition, if you can't make it up to Storrs for the game, you should take part in their liveblog. It's rather nifty.
The Vegas favorite: UConn, minus-12.
Series history: 14-6, UConn.
Last meeting: UConn 69, Notre Dame 61 (Jan. 24, 2009 in South Bend). You remember this game, right? Notre Dame's 45-game winning streak was snapped like Jerel McNeal's ankle. Jeff Adrien had a beastly 12 points and 19 rebounds, while J*rome D*son led UConn in scoring with 19. Hasheem Thabeet (9 points, 11 rebounds) was completely outplayed by Luke Harangoofy (24 points, 15 rebounds), but nobody else on the Irish could help out.
Is this school better at basketball than UConn, historically? I guess, theoretically. They did some cool things in the 1960's and 70's. It's now 2009. Digger Phelps is no longer relevant, and the Irish haven't had an elite team in a long time.
Quick thoughts: 1) Sticks needs to keep it up. No one expects 19 and 10 a night, but just being aggressive in looking for his shot and getting after loose balls is all we ask. Also, screaming after every dunk is encouraged for my amusement.
2) Notre Dame is on a bit of a hot streak, winning four of five to crawl back onto the NCAA Tournament bubble.
The key for them, as it is for all annoying mid-major-type offenses, is 3-point shooting. The Irish are 13-3 when they shoot 40 percent from there, 3-8 when they don't.
Over this last stretch of five games, the Irish are 46-for-105, which is just slightly over 40 percent. My worry is that they can beat a lot of teams when they shoot this well. I expect that KEMBA! and co. can keep that number down, but anything can happen.
In the first meeting, Notre Dame's guards were 6-for-23 (Harangody, playing his wussy fadaway/jumper game rather than play Thabeet straight up, was 2-for-4). Another effort like that will be necessary for UConn to grab the lead early and hold on.
3) If Scottie Haralson can knock down two or three 3-pointers every game, I like UConn's chances much better. I know he's only had one (decent) game of any significance, but I liked what I saw. Haralson isn't being asked to do anything more than shoot jump shots and play OK defense, and I think he can handle it.
It'll be a load off UConn's back if they have a sharpshooter who can just launch at will, thus forcing teams to actually play perimeter defense.
4) I'm a huge sap, so I love stuff like "Senior Day," which it will be at the Pavilion tomorrow.
I'm guessing that the students will be rather loud and emotional, what with Adrien, A.J. Price and Craig Austrie ending their great 17-year UConn careers.
There's also the matter of Thabeet probably playing his last game in Connecticut until the NBA moves a team to Hartford (hold your laughter).
Oh, and that head coach who ignited some kind of fire storm. I'd bet the kids probably will have something to say about that, too (in four-syllable chant form!)
Anyway, I tend to be so sentimental that I may even stay through the alma mater (I've even been learning the words!). Since I'll be at the postseason tournaments in another capacity, this is my last game as both an undergrad and a fan. Excuse me, I'm getting a little faklempt.
Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic - the Fighting Irish. They neither fight, nor are they Irish. Discuss.
There, I'm better.
My pick: I see no way Notre Dame is coming into Storrs and winning on Senior Day.
A win will vault UConn back to No. 1 in the polls heading into the season-ending showdown with Pitt, and I expect that the Huskies will come out ready to play. (Now you just know Notre Dame will start the game by scoring the first 11).
On the other hand, I'm a pessimistic bastard. The Irish probably need this game to have a realistic shot at the NCAAs, and the letdown from the fantastic performance on Wednesday is inevitable.
If Kyle McAlarney gets loose and hits some 3's, UConn could be in for a long day. Harangody will get his (and by his, I mean dunked on by Gavin Edwards:)
Weighing the two, I come up with the following:
UConn 72, Notre Dame 66
Enjoy the game, everybody. Thanks to the seniors. And go Huskies.