While the college football season is starting to wrap up, the college hoops season is just getting started. Man, I couldn't be more excited for college hoops. The Maui Invitational starting next week is going to be phenomenal, especially for Notre Dame fans. A chance to play back to back to back games with Indiana, Texas, and North Carolina should tell us a lot about this 2008-09 Irish team. Stay tuned for more college hoops coverage here on WEISND throughout the winter.
The football version of the Irish are entering their home finale against the Syracuse Orange. It should be an easy win, but you never know with this team. Hopefully the Irish will win big and send the seniors like Pat Kuntz and David Bruton out on a high note. Those guys have been through a lot, and it would be nice to end the season strong for their sake.
On to the picks:
Thursday November 20, 2008:
Miami (+3.5) at Georgia Tech (ESPN 7:30pm)
Dan: Miami +3.5
This is a really tough game for me because I really like both these teams. However, especially on a Thursday night, I think I have to side with the home team. Miami’s resurgence is starting to have Canes fans dizzy with BCS dreams. However, 3 of their 5 straight wins have been at home and the other 2 were at Duke and an OT victory at UVA. I know the Canes don’t have a huge home field advantage, but it is still better than playing on the road. If the Canes can pull off the win, they’ll be in the driver’s seat for the division title. I think they come close enough to cover, but fall just short of the win.
Georgia Tech 20 Miami 17
Matt: Miami +3.5
Stewart Mandel from cnnsi.com is currently predicting a Miami-ND Gator Bowl. Wow! That would be sweet to rekindle that rivalry. Maybe that game would knock some sense into Swarbrick to take Miami up on their offer and get the U on the schedule in the near future.
I’ve been saying all along that I like what Randy Shannon is doing, and I’m not jumping off the bandwagon now. As much as I’d like to see a Miami-ND Gator Bowl, I think the Canes will be home for the New Year in the Orange Bowl.
Miami 24 Georgia Tech 17
Mike: Georgia Tech -3.5
I was impressed by Miami’s defense last week, irrespective of Virginia Tech’s clear limitations. Although Miami has plenty of explosive athletes, it is often difficult for coaches to create a scheme which allows young players, especially true freshman, to “play fast” without getting lost. Miami’s defensive coordinator, Bill Young, did a fine job at Kansas in the same role last year and if his defense continues to play well, he will become a hot name for vacant head coaching positions. This week, however, Young’s mettle will be tested, as he must prepare the inexperienced Canes for the Georgia Tech triple option. Although I think Miami’s defense will hold up reasonably well, the Canes’ two-headed monster at quarterback seems like a disaster in the making, particularly against the ferocious Yellow Jacket front four. Look for a critical error from Marve or Harris to be the game changing play in this one.
Georgia Tech 24 Miami 17
Doug: Georgia Tech -3.5
The "home teams on a Thursday night" rule is my line of thinking for this game. Miami is getting better and better, but GT has been really good at home.
I like where this Miami program is going though. And credit to them for scheduling home and homes in the future with Ohio State and Nebraska and asking ND for a series. Meanwhile, we just locked up a long term series with UConn and have been approaching schools like Baylor and Utah for games. ND football: Going out of our way to be mediocre since 1994. Good times!
Saturday November 22, 2008:
Indiana +13 at Purdue (ESPN2 12pm)
Dan: IU +12
To quote Bobby Knight, there is no way I can pick Purdue!
IU 24 Purdue 13
Matt: Purdue -12
Being back in school, I’ve come to a realization: I don’t really care about the NFL. Sure, I like playing fantasy football, but I haven’t really had time to watch the NFL on Sundays, and I don’t miss it. The NFL has jumped the shark for me. Between the CONSTANT media attention it gets, the increasing amount of injuries (seriously, I know there’s really nothing that can be done, but the players are too big and fast for their own good. Someone is going to get killed on the field in the near future), and the silly celebrations after every tackle made or ball caught, I’m not afraid to say that the NFL is a distant 3rd on my pro sports priority list between the 3 major sports. The only thing keeping me interested in the NFL is the emergence of Brady Quinn. Great to see. Imagine if the Dolphins had him as their foundation for the next 10 years.
Purdue 41 IU 20
Mike: Purdue -12
By most accounts, Joe Tiller has never exactly been adored by his players. Still, Purdue showed some fight last week in Iowa and it stands to reason that the Boilermakers will be plenty motivated to send Tiller out as a winner in his final game as Purdue coach. Indiana has been awful this season, even when healthy, and the Hoosiers are now missing several of their top players for what could also be the final game for their embattled coach, Bill Lynch. There’s no need to order Boilermakers in West Lafayette on Saturday because drinks will be coming straight from the Old Oaken Bucket.
Purdue 35 Indiana 14
Doug: Indiana +12
I cannot give Purdue 13 points to anyone, especially when the Old Oaken Bucket is on the line. Purdue and Indiana are recruiting similar athletes, so there isn't that much of a difference between these programs. Wake me up when these two teams are playing at Mackey Arena and Assembly Hall.
If Purdue fans want to give Joe Tiller a proper sendoff, there better be free fake moustaches offered to all the fans. Throw on a little "Spirit" glue to give it a little extra adhesive, and there's potential for some great snout brooms in West Lafayette this weekend. If people really get creative, go ahead and groom your stache to a Gentleman Caller or a Private Eye or even a Duck Soup if you are feeling really bold.
Purdue 31 Indiana 23
Michigan +21 at Ohio State (ABC 12pm)
Dan: OSU -21
When I first saw this line, I thought there is no way I can take OSU to win a game by 19 points against Michigan. But with the latest news of transfers and recruits looking elsewhere, it really sounds like UM is falling apart at the seams this year. I really do think Rich Rod is a good coach. I do think he can be successful at UM. But it really is looking like it may take longer than initially expected. However, I’m not sure the Michigan faithful will let him last that long. If he comes out and goes 5-7 next year, they will be screaming bloody murder. In the meantime, they’re going to have to subject themselves to a drubbing in Columbus on Saturday.
Ohio State 34 Michigan 10
Matt: Ohio State -21
For all of the Michigan fans reading this ND blog: If you run Rich Rod out of town or question his ability, you’re nuts. I know its bad this year, but have you seen Nick Sheridan play? No offense to the Sheridans, but he should be playing D-3 football. Rodriguez has won everywhere he has been and he will win at Michigan. I don’t have a doubt about it. Imagine what this season would have been like for them if Terrelle Pryor had gone there instead of the Bucks.
Ohio State 31 Michigan 6
Mike: Ohio State -21
Can’t they both lose?
Ohio State 44 Michigan 10
Doug: Michigan +21
Are you kidding me??? Michigan is +21 in "The Game"?!? As someone who grew up watching Ohio State lose to Michigan every year during the John Cooper era, this line astounds me. I can't wrap my head around a line like that even if it is somewhat legitimate. Too many bad memories of Shawn Springs falling down in front of Tai Streets or Tim Biakabatuka ripping off 225 yards or Charles Woodson or Desmond Howard for me to ever think Michigan is a cakewalk type game for the Buckeyes.
As far as I'm concerned, this is my Big 10 lock of the year. Even if Ohio State has the capability of blowing out Michigan, Jim Tressel is not going to do it. He is going to grab a lead and sit on it. That's how he coaches the Michigan game. The Buckeyes are playing well lately and have found their stride a little bit with Terrelle Pryor, but Tressel is not going to try to run up the score in this game.
There is almost no buzz locally. Normally, Ohio State-Michigan is a circus all week (especially when it is in Columbus), but it's been really tame here. Meanwhile, Michigan is talking about this game as their "bowl game," so I expect to see them come out and play hard. If the Buckeyes are napping early, this game could get interesting.
Then again, Michigan is coming apart at the seams as a program. With McGuffie talking about transferring and some possible other defections, Michigan could be in real trouble. Rich Rodriguez is not doing himself any favors with the way he is running his program, especially after those insanely dumb comments about fans. Yo Rich, you're the head coach at the winningest college football program of all time. Stop talking about how many starters you lost last year. It's November and you just lost at home to Northwestern. Great programs don't worry about how many starters they lost. They reload and win games. And acting like fans should be concerned about the economy instead of worry about Michigan football is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Do you really think people aren't capable of worrying about both? Making excuses is a bunch of nonsense. Going 3-9 is far below the standards of Michigan football, and I can understand why people up there are upset. Rodriguez doesn't appear to get it.
Buckeye fans, where are you hoping to head during bowl season?? I think a Sugar Bowl matchup with Alabama would be phenomenal. Not sure how that game would go, but the tradition involved in that matchup would be great.
Anyway, Ohio State has a huge edge on offense, defense, and special teams in this game. Michigan is banged up, and their best player (Brandon Minor) is questionable for this game. Michigan is probably going to have several turnovers, and the Buckeyes will capitalize. Beanie Wells should have a huge day. The Buckeyes should cruise, but I think Michigan will cover.
Ohio State 24 Michigan 7
The Border War: Colorado State -2 at Wyoming (MTN 2pm)
Dan: Wyoming +2
I don’t know anything about these two teams. I am not going to even pretend. So, in a rivalry game, I’ll take a home dog.
Wyoming 24 Colorado State 23
Matt: Colorado State -2
The 100th Edition of the Border War! You know if Sonny Lubick were coaching the Rams that this game would have been played on a Thursday night. Letdown game for Wyoming after their big win at Tennessee. By the way, four thumbs down for every single player on Tennessee’s roster. Phil Fulmer has been a part of Rocky Top for 30+ years and you completely quit on him after he is fired. That is shameful.
Colorado State 17 Wyoming 14
Mike: Colorado State -2
This is the 100th edition of the Border War and I could devote an entire post to the great games in this storied rivalry. After all, just think of the legends who have waged battle in this epic series: Bradlee Van Pelt, Cecil Sapp, John Wendling, etc. I could go on forever, but for purposes of brevity, I will just post my final score prediction.
Colorado State 27 Wyoming 21
Doug: Wyoming +2
Throw out the records when these two get together!! I don't even know what city the University of Wyoming is in (or is it Wyoming University), but I'm sure the locals are fired up about the 100th edition of the "Border War." Wyoming beat Tennessee on the road this year. I don't care how bad Tennessee is this year. That's not an easy feat. Give me the Cowboys in the "upset" win at home.
Wyoming 21 Colorado State 20
Ole Miss +3.5 at LSU (CBS Sports 3:30pm)
Dan: Ole Miss +3.5
At this point, I’m not sure this LSU team is any good. I mean, it took a 30 point 4th quarter to beat Troy by 9! Ole Miss has already shown it can go on the road and be competitive (See: Ben Hill Griffin). Now, Ole Miss’s passing offense is certainly not extremely potent, which is how Troy exploited LSU last week. However, I think Snead can make just enough plays to pull off their 2nd upset on the road this year. How do you think Arkansas fans feel right about now?
Ole Miss 17 LSU 13
Matt: Ole Miss +3.5
Let me get this out of the way first. LSU is a FRAUD this year. Their wins have come against App State, North Texas, Auburn, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tulane and Troy. I have immense respect for what the Hat and the LSU program has accomplished in the past few years. But they are just not that good this year, on both sides of the ball. I think LSU sneaks out of Tiger Stadium with the W after picking off Jarrett Lee about 4 times.
Ole Miss 27 LSU 21
Mike: Ole Miss +3.5
LSU staged a furious late rally to erase a 28 point deficit and thereby avoid an ignominious defeat against Troy, but the Bayou Bengals’ futility for 3 quarters confirmed that they are replete with flaws. Furthermore, Houston Nutt has enjoyed success at Baton Rouge in his career and, unlike past years, Nutt’s Ole Miss team is superior to the host Tigers. Accordingly, I expect to see a big win in Death Valley for the visiting Rebels.
Ole Miss 28 LSU 21
Doug: LSU -3.5
Probably the most stunning score of the year on the ESPN ticker showed up during the third quarter of the LSU-Troy game:
Troy 31 LSU 3
What?? I couldn't believe my eyes. LSU came back to win, but falling down 31-3 to Troy is a concerning sign about that team. LSU has been very up and down this year. I don't know all the specifics of their roster, but they have a lot of veterans and I expected them to be more consistent. Whether it is fair or not, expectations for LSU football are at a very high level. They have been one of the top 5 programs in the country for the last 5 years or so, so this season has been a little bit of a step back for them. Should be interesting to see where the LSU program goes in the next few years now that Alabama has started creeping into their recruiting territories.
Mississippi has been awfully feisty this year. Just look at their four losses:
2 point loss to Wake
6 point loss to Vandy
7 point loss to South Carolina
4 point loss to Alabama
If a couple of those games had gone differently down the stretch, they could be 8-2 right now.
The success of Ole Miss and the disappointment of LSU have revealed something deeper about the state of the SEC this year. It's not as dominant of a league this year. Auburn is down, Georgia has been disappointing, LSU has not lived up to their top 10 billing, and Tennessee has been awful. The struggles of the major powers has been good for teams like Ole Miss and Vandy to make a push up the standings from their historical place in the league.
LSU 27 Ole Miss 20
Iowa -6 at Minnesota (Big Ten Network 7pm)
Dan: Iowa -6
Minnesota has been a pretty good team ATS this year (other than Northwestern and UM). And here they are as home underdogs against an Iowa team that only beat Purdue last week by 5 points. However, Shonn Greene is having one hell of a season. He’s averaging over 6 ypc! I think Greene can make enough plays with the ball in his hand for the Hawkeyes to pull it off on the road by a TD.
Iowa 21 Minnesota 14
Matt: Iowa -6
I didn’t get to say this last week:
Thank you Iowa, from college football fans everywhere, for saving us from Florida 56 Penn State 13
Iowa 31 Minnesota 17
Mike: Iowa -6
Although Minnesota has improved significantly from their 1-10 campaign in 2007, it has become clear that their early season run was largely the product of a soft schedule and an unsustainable glut of turnovers. By contrast, Iowa has reasserted itself as a solid contender in the Big Ten (as I predicted) with a strong late season finish led by a physical defense and the tough running of Shonn Greene. While this will be the final game in the Metrodome for Minnesota, there is no reason to expect that the Gophers will be extra motivated to leave its soulless, off-campus, NFL stadium on a winning note. Thus, the Hawkeyes should continue their strong run toward bowl season with a relatively comfortable win over a reeling Minnesota team.
Iowa 28 Minnesota 14
Doug: Minnesota +6
This is the easiest pick I've made all week. Iowa is getting a boost because of their win over Penn State, but let's not forget that Iowa is 1-3 on the road this year. At the end of the day, they are a typical 7-8 win Iowa team. They can be beat.
Minnesota is also sitting at 7-4 and looking to go out on a high note. They've had a nice year and will be ready to play in this game. I think they'll win straight up.
Minnesota 24 Iowa 23
North Carolina State +11 at North Carolina (Raycom 12pm)
Dan: North Carolina -11
After last weeks dismal performance against Maryland, UNC has the perfect opportunity to take out its frustrations on its interstate rival the Wolfpack. However, NC State has won 2 straight and will be tough for UNC. Additionally, the strength of the NC offense behind new QB Russell Wilson is a lack of turnovers. Wilson has thrown 12 TDs to 1 INT since taking over for Beck earlier in the year. However, Wilson hasn’t seen a defense like the UNC defense yet. I think the Tar Heels defense force the red shirt freshmen into a couple untimely interceptions enabling UNC to carry the day.
UNC 27 NC State 13
Matt: NC State +11
Jim Grobe picked a bad year to put together this turd of a season. With a veteran team, Wake has severely underachieved and it doesn’t seem like Grobe is on the short list of coaching candidates like he has been in years past. Which is definitely a good thing for Wake. (Let me just get this on record: January 11th , Wake Forest will beat UNC in hoops. You heard it here first. Al Farouq Aminu is going to be a STAR! I’m talking top 3 pick in the NBA. He kind of reminds me of Thaddeus Young, except better. And Tony Woods is going to be great too. Remember those two names hoops fans. While I’m at it…
My Final Four: UNC, Pitt, Louisville, Michigan State
Notre Dame goes to the Sweet 16
All Americans: Tyler Hansbrough, Luke Harangody, Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, James Harden
Underrated: Wake, Georgetown
Overrrated: UConn, Purdue, Duke
Sleepers: Drexel, UAB
Oh yeah, the game. I like the way that NC State is coming together with freshman Russell Wilson at QB. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Wolfpack straight up won this game, but I’ll go with a close win for the Heels. And no, I’m still not over the ND loss in Chapel Hill six weeks ago.
UNC 31 NC State 28
Mike: North Carolina State +11
NC State’s 2008 campaign has been very similar to its 2007 season, insofar as they have progressed from hapless to mediocre over the course of the season. This year, the emergence of Russell Wilson, who has been one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC, has been the primary reason for the Wolfpack’s improved play. Wilson has especially thrived at avoiding turnovers and if he can continue this trend, the Wolfpack should have success against a Tar Heel team that has lived and died by the interception. NC State is on the rise and Tom O’Brien will have his team focused for a big rivalry game. Will it be enough for the outright win?
North Carolina 20 NC State 17
Doug: North Carolina State +11
NC State is quietly playing much better as the season goes along. They appear to have found a quarterback with Russell Wilson, and have been pretty competitive in the ACC the last month or so. The Wolfpack may be a team to watch in the ACC. Tom O'Brien is no slouch as a head coach.
Tough news for UNC fans about Tyler Zeller breaking his wrist. He looked like he had some ability. Seemed like a Hansborough type guy who could have put up some numbers in that offense. UNC is incredible by the way. Not only is their offense loaded, they are better defensively as well. I do not understand how Roy gets these guys to buy into their roles. Is it just because of that Carolina jersey?? Guys like Ellington and Lawson would already be in the NBA if they had gone to other schools, but Roy gets them to stick around for four years. It's amazing. And then you have guys like Deon Thompson and Danny Green who would be star players on other teams, and yet they are cool with playing 20 minutes and coming off the bench. UNC basketball is an embarrassment of riches.
UNC 24 NC State 14
Washington -7.5 at Washington State (FSN 3pm)
Dan: Washington – 7.5
No question about it. This is the worst game ever played by two teams of a BCS conference. My initial inclination would be a strong tendency towards 1) Betting against Willingham 2) taking the points 3) taking the home team. All three of these would initially lead me to take WSU. However, as bad Washington is, I think WSU is actually even worse. And while 8.5 points is a lot for two teams this bad, the Huskies passing offense is just barely good enough to win by 10.
Washington 27 Washington State 17
Matt: Washington -7.5
Hide the women and children! This one is going to be ugly. What the hell has happened to these two programs? (Hold that, we know that Hurricane Willingham has happened to Washington.) But I don’t think there has ever been a program as putrid as the one currently taking the field in Pullman. I’m not going to waste any more energy talking about this game – just see if you can find this one on Fox Sports to see what football shouldn’t look like.
Washington 10 Washington State 0
Mike: Washington State: +7.5
I am actually quite excited about this additional of the Apple Cup, which has been dubbed as the “Rotten Apple Cup” by local pundits in the Pacific Northwest. This is an epic battle of futility between two winless teams (note: 1-AA wins don’t count) that will not be seen for a long time in college football, so I would strongly suggest tuning in to this game at 3:30 EST. Washington clearly has more talent than Wazzu this year, but the Huskies seem to have quit on their lame duck coaches. Mark it down: those plucky Cougs will play inspired football before a raucous Martin Stadium crowd and send Ty Willingham out, fittingly, as a loser.
Wazzu 21 Washington 17
Doug: Washington State +7.5
The Apple Cup! Maybe the worst football game of all time. A 1-10 team against an 0-10 team. The crazy thing is that it seems like a lot of people are excited about this game just for the comedy.
I refuse to give Washington 7.5 points on the road in this game. Their players cannot wait for this season to be over with. At least Wazzou has a new coach who they players are accountable to.
I'll go with the Cougars in a straight up win. Go crazy Pullman!
Washington State 24 Washington 21
Stanford +9 at Cal (ABC 3:30pm)
Dan: Stanford +9
I’m still not convinced anyone else in the PAC 10 outside of USC is worthy of being 9 point favorites. Frankly, the rest the teams are just kind of blasé. Oregon State has some potential, but I really don’t see Cal pulling off a 9 point victory against a feisty Stanford team.
Stanford 21 Cal 13
Matt: Stanford +9
I really have nothing to say about this game…but let me talk a little about Will Muschamp being named the coach in waiting at Texas. WHAT? That’s absurd. Can you imagine if someone had been named successor to Joe Paterno when he was 57 years old! Mack Brown has gotten the Texas program rolling again. I can’t see him going anywhere anytime soon. Let me just say that I am very skeptical that Muschamp will ever walk the sidelines in Austin as the head ball coach.
Stanford 25 Cal 20
Mike: California -9
I refuse to pick any team coached by Jim Harbaugh after last week’s debacle. Allow me to set the scene: for informational purposes, I need USC to cover the 24 point spread to win the final leg of a 3 team parlay. The Trojans, behind a dominant second half performance, score with approximately 1 minute left to take a 28 point lead. Looking good, right? On its ensuing possession, Stanford moves the ball to the USC 25 and the Cardinal appear to be running out the clock. As Pete Carroll and the Trojans begin to take the field for the handshake with 3 seconds left, however, Harbaugh calls timeout and brings his field goal unit onto the field in an act of spite. I do not mind because, even if the kick is successful, I will cover the spread at 25 points. Not to be outdone though, Carroll calls timeout to ice the kicker. Captain Comeback then sends his offense back onto the field and, of course, the Cardinal score on a 25 yard touchdown pass with no time left.
To make matters worse, I also won the first two prongs of a 3 team parlay on Sunday. The third team? The Steelers, of course. Possibly the most painful gambling weekend in my long and storied career.
Cal 38 Stanford 24
Doug: Stanford +9
Can't make up my mind for this game, but I feel like Stanford is playing well and has a lot to play for. They need to win this game to have a shot at a bowl bid.
Cal is fading down the stretch. They've been tough at home, but that's a lot of points for a rivalry game between two teams that are fairly evenly matched. Plus, Stanford won this game last year.
Great move by Stanford to lock up Harbaugh by the way. He is doing a heckuva job there. If they can keep him around, I can live with them on our schedule. He has the ability to turn Stanford into an 8ish win program, which would be a major improvement for them.
Cal 23 Stanford 17
Michigan State +14.5 at Penn State (ABC 3:30pm)
Dan: Michigan State +14.5
This is an odd week for me. I generally have weak spot for the favorites, but I am all over the underdogs this week. Penn State, no longer playing for the national title, is going to have some trouble getting up for this game. Javon Ringer is definitely getting worn out after being run into the ground all year by D’Antonio. However, the bye week should help him get a little spring back in his legs for one last Big 10 game. I think Penn State will control the game, but MSU’s ground game runs time off the clock and keeps the tempo slow enabling them to cover.
Penn State 24 MSU 13
Matt: Michigan State +14.5
This line seems a little odd to me. I don’t see Sparty going into Beaver Stadium and getting a win, but didn’t we all agree that Penn State isn’t that good. I think MSU pounds the ball and controls the clock. Penn State pulls it out by a field goal.
Penn State 13 MSU 10
Mike: Michigan State +14.5
Although Penn State has been relieved of the pressure of contending for a national championship, this is a very important game for the Nittany Lions with the Rose Bowl hanging in the balance. Sparty, too, could conceivably make it to Pasadena, but it would need a Michigan victory at Ohio State this week, which is highly improbable. As such, all of the pressure is on Penn State, rather than Michigan State, and the Spartans should benefit from an extra week of preparation. Consequently, I expect Michigan State to play a very competitive game in Happy Valley before eventually falling short.
Penn State 31 Michigan State 21
Doug: Michigan State +14.5
There is a 0.0% chance that Michigan State wins this game, but that's a pretty high number for a November game that means a lot to both teams. Michigan State has had two weeks to gear up for this game. They will be ready to play, and I expect a competitive game.
With that said, Buckeye fans, don't get your hopes up for a Sparty upset that opens the door for you to get to the Rose Bowl. Penn State is too good at home to blow this game. They will be able to run the ball on the Spartans, and there will be opportunities to make plays on this Michigan State defense. On the other side of the ball, Michigan State is going to have a tough time running the ball on the Penn State defense. If they can't get anything going on the ground and are forced to rely on Hoyer to make plays, this game could get ugly.
Penn State 24 Michigan State 13
Oregon State +2.5 at Arizona (Versus 7pm)
Dan: Oregon State +2.5
I have no idea what this Arizona team has showed us that it would deserve to be a 3 point favorite against the only other team in the PAC 10 with an argument of being a decent team. I have been question OSU the whole way. But last week’s victory over Cal has me in the believer column. Jacquizz has had 144 rushing yards each of the last 2 games. Nothing about Mike “Hot Seat” Stoops has me believing that Arizona will slow him down.
Oregon State 24 Arizona 21
Matt: Oregon State +2.5
It’s looking more and more like Oregon State is going to be headed to the Rose Bowl as the Pac-10 champion. Which begs the question, if things fall into place, should USC be able to play for the National Championship without even winning their conference? There is nothing in the BCS rules against it, but I guess we’ll have to see how some voters feel.
It wouldn’t shock me if Mike Stoops found a way to save his job by getting the home W. The West Coast Tommy Bowden.
Oregon State 41 Arizona 31
Mike: Arizona -2.5
Oregon State has been hearing the Rose Bowl talk for several weeks and it’s bound to catch up with them at some point. More importantly, even if the Beavers can tune out the media, they will have a difficult time handling an explosive Arizona team that was impressive last week in Eugene, albeit in defeat. Given the venue of the game and the fact that all of the pressure is squarely on Oregon State, I like the Wildcats to harness their slight talent edge into a surprisingly easy win.
Arizona 33 Oregon State 17
Doug: Arizona -2.5
For you BCS forecasters out there, this game might actually end up being the key game of the weekend. If Oregon State wins this game, they are a "Civil War" win over Oregon at home away from the Rose Bowl. That scenario will probably boot somebody like Ohio State or Oklahoma or one of the midmajors out of the BCS.
While Oregon State has had a nice year, I really don't want to see them win the Pac 10 and end up in the BCS. They've lost three games already. They lost by 31 to Penn State, lost to Stanford, and lost to Utah. Plus, they're Oregon State. Not exactly one of the glamour names. Maybe I'm biased, but I like my BCS bowls with "heavyweights" and teams that have a lot of tradition. I'm tired of seeing these "johnny come lately" types around that no one cares about. Give me Oklahoma and Texas and Ohio State and Alabama.
Here's how I'd like to see these BCS Bowls shake out:
BCS Title game: Florida vs. USC
Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. Texas
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Miami(FL)
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Ohio State
Orange: Cincinnati vs. Utah
That would be incredible, but I'm sure it won't happen. These games will get watered down somehow.
One unofficial rule that I'd like to see would be for the doubled-up site hosting both a bowl game and a BCS titel game to get the crappiest game. The Orange Bowl this year should get the Big East champ and the non-BCS school invite. It's only fair. They already have the BCS title game. Give the Orange Bowl the worst two schools to create better matchups in the other games.
Arizona 27 Oregon State 21
BYU (+6) at Utah (MTN 6pm)
Dan: Utah -6
I want to take a moment to point something out. Utah beat San Diego State by a score of 63 – 14 in San Diego. Notre Dame needed a questionable fumble call to barely win 21 – 13 at home. As for this game, I’ll take the home team to win by a touchdown. Utah is a team on a mission to get back to the BCS.
Utah 28 BYU 21
Matt: Utah -6
This is actually a huge rivalry game out in Utah. Probably not many of these games have been played with more on the line. If Utah wins, they’re going to the BCS. If BYU wins and Boise State loses, they’re more than likely going to the BCS. I’m not an expert on either of these teams, but I’ll go with the home Utes to get the W and the BCS bid. (Where have you gone Rick Majerus and Michael Doleac? Utah lost to some team called Southwest Baptist. Yikes)
Utah 31 BYU 21
Mike: BYU +6
The “Holy War” is another one of my favorite rivalry games. In the last two years, BYU has won this game in stunning, improbable (and near-impossible) fashion, so Ute fans cannot be blamed for feeling a little cursed. Along with the emotional baggage from 2006 and 2007, the Utes must also cope with the immense pressure of needing a win to complete an undefeated season. In a game between two evenly matched teams, the Cougars’ psychological advantage will serve the difference. But there’s no need to fret for Utah supporters: at least you get a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl where you can drown your…uhhh, never mind.
BYU 35 Utah 31
Doug: BYU +6
The "Holy War" heads to Salt Lake this week for the Utah-BYU game. I've unfortunately had to pay way too much attention to BYU football this year due to their inexplicable inclusion in my college football fantasy league, and I feel like they have a great chance to straight up win this game. I can't give Utah the six points in a toss up type game.
Now is probably the time where I should complain about Boise State or Utah going to the BCS, but I'm very conflicted about this. On the one hand, I can't stand that 2 teams per conference rule for the BCS games, and I would certainly prefer to see someone like Texas Tech or Texas in the BCS over Utah. I love seeing the big names and powerhouses colliding. When you get games like Texas-Alabama, the conference bragging rights are on the line. Just seeing those uniforms on the same field is special. You can't get the same effect when it's Texas-Utah. The Oklahoma-Boise State game turned out to be an all-time classic, but I can't say that I was really all that excited about the game leading up to it.
On the other hand, it's hard for me to knock a Utah team that has done everything you could ask for and more. They had the guts to go to the Big House, they scheduled Oregon State at home, and they are on the verge of going 12-0. There's not much else they could do, and the Mountain West is a solid conference this year. There are three ranked teams in the Mountain West. Heck, the Mountain West is probably better at the top than the Big East. In that respect, I can't argue against Utah getting a bid in a BCS game.
Utah 23 BYU 20
Pittsburgh (+5) at Cincinnati (ESPN2 7:15pm)
Dan: Cincinnati – 5
In Brian Kelly we trust. In Wannstedt we do not. The Cincinnati faithful have really adopted this Bearcat team since they’re the only football game in town at the moment. Expect them to be fired up this weekend as a win here effectively wraps up the Big East title (with only a game against Syracuse left) and a trip to the BCS. Cincy will get it done easily.
Cincinnati 28 Pittsburgh 17
Matt: Pitt +5
Rumors are swirling that Brian Kelly is out the door, more than likely to Rocky Top. On paper, it would seem to be a mismatch with Dave Wannstedt on the sideline on the road. But I see Wanny getting his guys up for this one and giving the Bearcasts a steady dose of Shady Mccoy. In the end, the home field of Nippert Stadium makes the difference, and the Bearcats move that much closer to locking up the Big East.
UC 24 Pitt 20
Mike: Cincinnati -5
In the fledging “River City” rivalry, we have another classing coaching mismatch. Dave Wannstedt has enjoyed an extra week to prepare, but this will only provide him with extra time to determine the best way to mess things up for the host Panthers. Meanwhile, Brian Kelly will have his team fully prepared and motivated to take the next step toward a Big East title. Cincinnati’s success this year might enable Kelly to take a more higher profile job, which could mean that Notre Dame might miss out on their chance to hire him as Weis’s successor.
Cincinnati 33 Pittsburgh 24
Doug: Cincinnati -5
Your Big East game of the year!! I am more excited about this game than any other on the schedule this weekend. I'm headed down to Nippert Stadium on Saturday to hopefully see a piece of history. When the words "Cincinnati football" and "BCS bowl' are used in the same sentence, I feel like I have an obligation to make the trip back home to see this game. I never thought I would see the day. If UC wins this game, they are going to the BCS.
Just to show how weak the support is locally for UC football, this game still isn't sold out. It's a 35,000 seat stadium, and they can't sell out the biggest game in UC history. I think it will probably end up a sellout after walk up sales and such, but that's not a good sign for the program. At the end of the day, people in Cincinnati can't get into UC football. It surprises me because there are so many UC grads in town, but the support has never been there and continues to lag. Part of it is the Bengals, but the larger reason is probably that Cincy is just not a college football town. It's a college hoops city with pockets of college football allegiance for Ohio State, ND, Kentucky, and even Michigan. UC continues to get more and more attention locally, but they are still a long way away from becoming a big deal. The Bengals somehow continue to have a grip on the town in spite of their efforts to kill professional football in the Queen City.
As for the game itself, the key for the Bearcats obviously will be whether they can shut down LeSean McCoy. Pitt's o-line does a nice job opening up holes for McCoy, and he has the explosion to rip off big runs. I've watched Pitt a few times this year, and I really believe they could run the football on just about anybody. Louisville ran it all over the Bearcats. Pitt will try to do the same.
As has been the case for most of the year, Cincy is at a talent disadvantage in this game. Pitt will have the edge up front, and McCoy is the best player in the conference. UC does most of their damage through the air, and they should have some opportunities to get the ball in the hands of their wide receivers against this Pitt secondary.
Not gonna lie, I think Pitt is the better team here, but I'll take Brian Kelly and those fighting Bearcats to keep it rolling along. I can't see Brian Kelly losing this game at home.
Cincinnati 24 Pitt 17
Texas Tech (+7) at Oklahoma (ABC 8pm)
Dan: Texas Tech +7
A touchdown underdog? Leach’s boys must be taking that as an insult. I know they are on the road and their big wins have come at home this year. But Texas Tech really looks like the real deal. Their defense is solid enough (See: Texas first half, Kansas Game, Oklahoma State) and we all know they have the best player in college football in Michael Crabtree. Since the loss of MLB Ryan Reynolds, I just have not been that impressed with the Oklahoma defense. Additionally, Auston English, their stud Defense End went down in the Nebraska game and is still not back. Expect this game to be a real shoot-out, but I think Texas Tech can at least pull off the cover if not the win.
Texas Tech 48 Oklahoma 45
Matt: Texas Tech +7
Wow, game of the year, again, in the Big 12. With Georgia and LSU being unmasked as mediocre teams, I don’t think even the most fervent SEC supporter could deny the superiority of the Big 12 this year. To me, this game comes down to which defense can make a few plays. You know that Bradford and Harrell will be lighting up the scoreboard, but can one of the defenses force a few field goals or cause a turnover or two? I’ve just been really impressed with Texas Tech recently – they have a running game and a defense to go with Harrell to Crabtree. Mike Leach has actually done ok against Oklahoma, including a W last year. I’ll take Texas Tech to get a HUGE road W in Norman.
Texas Tech 47 Oklahoma 42
Mike: Oklahoma -7
Speaking of coordinators, if the Oklahoma continues to produce at its current level under offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, there will be schools lining up to interview him in the near future. As for the immediate future, Texas Tech does not have a prayer in the world of stopping Wilson’s offense. I respect Mike Leach and I obviously underestimated the Red Raiders this year, but there is no way that Oklahoma, which has its own bona fide national championship ambitions, will lose this game in Norman. On a related note, given my virulent disdain for mid-majors, Cinderellas, underdogs and traditional also-rans, I am looking forward to the day when Mike Leach departs from Lubbock so that Texas Tech can become irrelevant again.
Oklahoma 52 Texas Tech 35
Doug: Oklahoma -7
Ok, I'll admit that I've been wrong about Texas Tech all year. They are for real, and I absolutely believe they are a top 10 team (if not top 5). If they win this game, I believe I will have gone about 0-5 betting on Texas Tech this year. Not only have they been steadily winning, they've been easily covering the spread.
I just can't take them against Oklahoma though. Maybe I'm just biased towards "heavyweights," but that's who I am. OU is absolutely incredible at home. No one has touched them. They are going to score at will in this game. Can Texas Tech keep up?? I wouldn't put it past them, but I gotta play the odds and take the Sooners. Sam Bradford will be the leader for the Heisman trophy on Monday morning. Looking forward to it.
Quick announcer note. I'm sort of bummed that Herbie and Musberger have essentially become the voices of the Big 12 this year. I know they are the #1 team and that most of the best ABC games have been in the Big 12, but I miss having those guys involved with the Big 10. To me, Brent Musberger is Mr. Big 10. When I think of Big 10 football in November, I think of cold weather, running the football, and Brent Musberger calling the action. He has been so synonomous with Big 10 football for the last 20 or so years that it doesn't seem right when he's down in Big 12 country all year. Just like SEC football with Verne Lundquist or The Masters with James William Nantz III, Big 10 football isn't the same without Brent Musberger.
Guess that's just me. Even though the OU-TTU game is undoubtedly the game of the weekend, I'd personally like to see Brent and Kirk in State College or Columbus this weekend. Leave the Big 12 to Ron Franklin or Brad Nessler.
Oklahoma 45 Texas Tech 35
Sunday November 23, 2008:
Connecticut (+3) at South Florida (ESPN 8pm)
Dan: Connecticut (+3)
Connecticut is due for a loss after the last 4 games which go Loss, Win, Loss, Win. They seem to be alternating. But this South Florida team has really packed it in. They’ve dropped 3 straight including a 33 point drubbing by Rutgers last week. This UConn team is just frisky enough to go down to Tampa and upset USF. Afterwards, I just hope they have a chance to celebrate by getting frisky at the Mons.
UConn 24 USF 21
Matt: UConn +3
USF is headed in the wrong direction. However, if I’m looking for a coach, that doesn’t dissuade me from taking a good hard look at Jim Leavitt. I still think that he had done an incredible job of building that program from scratch and recruiting talent to USF.
Here’s my Top 7 for this week:
51. Notre Dame
52. Nevada – I’m already petrified of that season opener against Nevada next year and it’s still 10 months away. I think we are going to lose that game. Colin Kaepernick, their QB, is the real deal. He’s already thrown for 1800 yards and 14 td’s and run for 1000 yards and 16 td’s. I’m just saying.
UConn 28 USF 14
Mike: Connecticut +3
Can we start a movement to make Sunday Night college football a weekly event? This game features an interesting contrast of a team that is talented but incredibly mistake prone (USF) against a fundamentally sound team with few great athletes (Connecticut). USF committed six turnovers last week at home against Rutgers and they should be in a giving mood on Sunday against an opportunistic Husky team. Much like Notre Dame, the Bulls are a merely collection of individuals, rather than a cohesive team. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see whether Randy Edsall can shield his team from the noisy rumors that he will soon leave Storrs for the cozy confines of the Carrier Dome. Stay tuned.
Connecticut 31 USF 27
Doug: Connecticut +3
South Florida has completely collapsed. Maybe they'll bounce back and dominate this game, but I have to think that UConn has more to play for this weekend. If UConn wants to take the next step as a program, they need to find a way to win games like this one.
Speaking of UConn, I can't even believe they are the #2 team in the nation in college hoops right now. How is that possible?? I don't even think they are one of the top 3 teams in the conference. I know all about Jim Calhoun's record of success, but I feel like UConn is becoming like the Florida State of college hoops. Too many undisciplined guys and questionable character types, and Calhoun has maybe lost just a bit of his handle on that program. And I think a lot of their players are overrated. I don't know, that's an outsider's perspective, but that's how I feel about them.
My current top five for the Big East would read like this:
2) Notre Dame
Georgetown is flying under the radar. They still have as much talent as anyone in the league.
UConn 23 USF 21
Syracuse at Notre Dame (NBC 2:30pm)
Dan: Notre Dame
I’ll let Doug pontificate on the details of the game. But given that here at Weisnd only pick straight up for the ND games, I’ll take ND to win. Syracuse is terrible. ND is only bad. They may even cover a 3 TD spread.
Notre Dame 31 Syracuse 10
Matt: Notre Dame
Do you remember the part in Chris Rock’s standup where he’s making fun of people who brag that they take care of their kids or don’t go to jail. “You’re supposed to, you dumb ___________!” That was what last week’s Navy game was like for me. Notre Dame is supposed to beat Navy, so no bonus points earned for Charlie coming up with that gameplan or calling those plays. I can only imagine that Mike Haywood will be making his last trip into Notre Dame on Saturday since he has been swept to the side by Weis. I know he has had a family tragedy, but I see no way he can work under Weis after basically being demoted…even though we all know that Charlie’s fingerprints were all over every gameplan and play call made this year.
I haven’t seen one minute of Syracuse football, but I hope ND is not taking this game lightly. ND is not good enough, especially without Floyd and Smith, to just show up and win. And you never know how a team will play after their coach is fired. Tennessee showed you can either lay down like a dog, or you can come out fired up and try to win one for him. I think ND wins, but it’s going to be another close one that does nothing to clear up the Charlie Weis picture.
Notre Dame 20 Syracuse 14
Mike: Notre Dame
What can I say about Syracuse that hasn’t already be said? Mercifully, and belatedly, the Orange administration put coach Greg Robinson out of his misery this week, so the team is just playing out the string this week. While Senior Day can be a distraction at times, there should be no such problem this week since Ty Willingham’s pathetic recruiting efforts resulted in a Notre Dame roster that is bereft of seniors. Charlie will get another win this week, thus ensuring an additional year in South Bend and more heartache for Irish fans in 2009.
On a related note, new AD Jack Swarbrick’s interview during the Navy game did nothing to dispel the suspicion that he is cut from the same cloth as Mike Wadsworth and Kevin White. I realize that Swarbrick cannot be controversial in a halftime interview, but a little candor would have been nice. Instead, Swarbrick spewed the same “Sunday through Friday” drivel as his predecessor, as he referenced graduation rates and the women’s soccer team. Notre Dame isn’t about the Sears Cup and, while academics are of course important, the paramount concern for the athletic director at ND should be winning football games.
Finally, if and when Weis has the opportunity to win by a significant margin this week, he should keep his foot on the gas pedal. There’s nothing immoral or unethical about burying an opponent, even if it is an academy on the other sideline.
Notre Dame 38 Syracuse 14
Doug: Notre Dame
Fresh off that huge win over Navy, the Irish are closing out the home season with a gimme game against the Cuse. Can't we just play this game at the JACC?? I'd rather see Brey and Boeheim squaring off than this one.
Some keys to the game:
1) ND running game - After our strong effort on the ground last week, I hope to see ND running the ball again this week on Syracuse. Syracuse is giving up 200+ yards a game on the ground. Give the rock to Armando Allen, and wear them out. Hopefully Weis noticed that if you stick to the run, those 3-4 yard gains in the first half start turning into 7-8 yard gains in the second half. If Weis is willing to stick to the run, we can churn out yards on the ground again this week.
As far as I'm concerned, the #1 priority for ND football heading into next year is to establish an effective running game against good teams. It takes pressure off our defense and our quarterback. Our defense has been pretty good this year (not great), and the defense will probably only get better as the young players up front mature. The running game needs to get it going though. We have a 0.0% chance of beating USC next week if the running game is getting stonewalled. Clausen will be in no-huddle panic mode by our second possession, and USC is going to tee off on him and blanket our receivers.
2) Gregg Robinson's Swan Song - Question for Syracuse AD Darryl Gross: When are you going to apologize to your fanbase for making the horrific decision to bring back Gregg Robinson this year?? You pretty much mocked Syracuse fans after last year for wanting him gone. When are you going to apologize for being 100% wrong?? If I was the president of Syracuse, Darryl Gross would be gone at the end of the year. Not only did Gross hire Robinson (which shows he has zero capability of identifying a great head coach), he made it worse by sticking with the guy one year (heck, even two years) too late.
The second thing I would do if I was the Syracuse president would be to refund the fans their money for this 2008 season. It would be an incredible gesture to show the fans that you are accountable for the performance of your team. Make it happen.
So where do the Cuse go from here?? Sounds like Turner Gill is on the list. Could be a great choice, but I don't know enough about him though. I think Al Golden would be a great choice too, but I'm not sure if he's interested. Edsall would have been a good one as well, but it sounds like he's sticking at UConn. I can't see Lane Kiffin being a candidate there.
Either way, I am pulling for the Cuse to make a good hire. They have good history, and a good Syracuse program is good for college football. It sounds like they might be the mysterious "euphoric verbal" that Kevin White talked about as our replacement for Rutgers on future schedules, so I'd like to see them turn into a decent program again for our schedule strength.
3) Special Teams - The "when will we get a kickoff return past the 50?" contest continues for Notre Dame football. If we don't get one this week against the Cuse, I don't think it will happen once this year. I am anticipating the possibility that we will be starting just about every drive against USC inside our 20. Not a good recipe for having much success out there.
On the bright side, the blocked punt against Navy was a thing of beauty. You could make a very good argument that Mike Anello is one of the two or three MVPs of this team. Is he a senior this year?? If so, he will be sorely missed. He has the biggest heart on the team.
4) Youth! Inexperience! - I know the two most overplayed cliches of 2008 Notre Dame football have been the "we're young" and "we'll be better when we have more experience" cards, but hear me out on this for a minute. For some reason, the Cleveland Indians channel here in Ohio (Sportstime Ohio) plays the weekly "Inside Notre Dame Football" show every week, and this week's show had a feature on the current freshman class. Anyway, they had a lot of clips and interviews with guys like Blanton, Floyd, Rudolph, Goodman, Darius Fleming, and Ethan Johnson. Some of these guys look like 10 year old kids!! I swear, Robert Blanton looks like he's 15 and probably doesn't weigh much more than your average WEISND.BLOGSPOT.COM blogger. And yet Blanton is starting on Notre Dame's defense. In 2-3 years, he's going to look like David Bruton. Same goes for Floyd and Rudolph and Ethan Johnson. They are already good players, but they look like the 18 year old kids that they are. When they get older and more mature, they are going to be that much better. We have had 6 freshmen start in a game this year, and 10 freshmen have received major playing time. That's crazy. No other big time program is that young.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that watching that segment reminded me of how young these guys truly are. We watch them with their helmets and pads on, and forget that we are dealing with 18-19 year old kids playing against 21-22 year old guys who have been maturing and lifting in the weight room for the last 3 years. As frustrating as it has been to watch this maturation process, I can't really deny the reality that we are still growing up as a team and as a program. In basketball, age doesn't matter if you have talent. But in football?? Kids going against men is never a recipe for success.
So stick with these kids. And dare I say, stick with their head coach for now. I've been as critical of Charlie Weis as anyone, but he deserves a shot to see what these kids look like in the next couple years. ND is going to be a good team next year and the year after. Maybe not Florida good, but a good team and maybe even very good.
Does that mean that we'll beat USC next week or even be competitive with them?? No. I don't think that we will. Our running game will probably fold up in that game, our special teams will probably get exposed again, and I think USC will pound away on our defense until they wear out. We have barely improved through 10 games this year, and I think the overall season has been a disappointment. However, I'd like to see what this team looks like when Blanton and Rudolph and Floyd are juniors.
Notre Dame 27 Syracuse 10
Monday November 24, 2008
College Hoops pick of the week: Notre Dame-Indiana (Maui Invitational) (ESPN2 5:30pm)
Dan: Notre Dame
I think Tom Crean will be successful at Indiana. Is he good enough to win a national title? I'm not sure about that, but time will tell. What we do now right now is that Indiana is bad. Really bad. The departure of Sampson left the program in shambles with mass transfers and complete lack of team unity. Crean finds himself left with a collection of walk-ons and mediocre "3rd guy off the bench" type players. Luckily, it is much easier to rebuild quickly in basketball than in football. However, look for IU to have a Michigan football type season this year. But I would expect IU basketball next year to be better than Michigan football next year.
As for Monday night, IU is hopelessly outmatched. As much as Tom Crean may be able to get his team up for the big game, ND should beat IU by 30 even if they don't play well. Additionally, ND should not need any additional motivation to get up for a game against their in-state rivals. My only concern is that they need to not get caught looking ahead. With Hansborough unlikely to be ready to play, and now with T. Zeller out for the year, ND can probably hang with or even beat UNC and take home the title. Even without Hansborough, such a victory would set ND up for a chance to make a run at a 2 or 3 seed this year. My guess is that they will be fine and Brey will have them focused on the Hoosiers on Monday night. Crean will likely have IU try to slow it down and play a low tempo game to limit the Irish offense, but it won't help that much and ND will still win by over 20.
Notre Dame 74 IU 51
Matt: Notre Dame
Mike: Notre Dame
Does Indiana even have enough players to field a team after the post-Sampson mass exodus? Tom Crean may be able to build this team into a winner again, but he will need at least 3 years before the Hoosiers are ready to compete in the Big Ten. As for this year, Notre Dame better be able to run roughshod over this glorified high school opponent.
The real test in Maui will be ability of the Irish to match up against Texas and perhaps North Carolina. While a strong showing in Hawaii would provide hope for an unprecedented level of success in the Brey era (and serve as a welcome flashback to the BB&T Classic in December of 2002,), it is unclear whether the Irish are truly deserving of their top 10 ranking. In the opening game, the 2008 edition of Notre Dame basketball looked like last year’s squad; i.e., a great passing and shooting team that is capable of scoring, and also surrendering, points by the boatload. In other words, the Irish should be solid, but I believe that their defensive limitations will prevent them from being a bona fide top 10 team, notwithstanding their early ranking in the polls.
Notre Dame 91 Indiana 65
Bonus Predictions: Texas 72 Notre Dame 67 or Notre Dame 81 St. Josephs 71
Doug: Notre Dame
Let me just say that I will happily take a one point win over any Indiana team. Just seeing that name across the front of their jersey still gives me some level of trepidation, and there is a lot of pride associated with putting on those Indiana uniforms. No Indiana team should ever be taken lightly.
With that said, Indiana is so incredibly depleted this year that I would be pretty shocked if we don't handle them easily in this game. Not only did their whole team bail after Sampson got fired, just about all their recuits left as well (much to the delight of Xavier who picked up Jordan Crawford and Terrell Holloway). The only guy I would consider an "Indiana-caliber" player on that roster is Tom Pritchard, who was a pretty solid recruit out of the Cleveland area. Other than that, they are dealing with retreads, JUCOs, and walk-ons. If the name Indiana wasn't on their uniform, it would feel like a game against IUPUI.
I expect Indiana to be inspired in this game, and you know Tom Crean always gets feisty about playing the Irish. However, Notre Dame is a well-oiled machine that should roll the Hoosiers. There is no one on the Indiana roster who can bang with Harangody, and KMac should get enough open looks to put this game out of reach. We have too many weapons. I think the Irish will roll and head on into the second round against Texas.
While I'm here, I wanted to say that I would love to restart the ND-Indiana rivalry in basketball. That game should happen every year. If we formed long-term relationships with UCLA and Indiana, I would be thrilled. Both those schools have so much history with Notre Dame basketball.
ND 82 IU 63