Onto the ACC-Big Ten Challenge: Notre Dame

Onto the ACC-Big Ten Challenge: Notre Dame

Men's Preview

Illinois at Notre Dame, 6 p.m. today

Lineups

Illinois (2-4)

Starters

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Trent Frazier So. 6-1 17.6 Wellington, Fla.

G Ayo Dosunmu Fr. 6-5 14.5 Chicago

G Alan Griffin Fr. 6-5 6.4 Ossining, N.Y.

G Aaron Jordan Sr. 6-5 10.2 Plainfield

F Giorgi Bezhanishvili Fr. 6-9 7.3 Rustavi, Georgia

FYI: The Illini lead the Big Ten and rank 10th nationally in defensive turnover percentage, forcing their opponents to cough up the ball in 25.3 percent of their possessions. Frazier has a team-high 11 steals and is averaging 2.2 per game.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Da'Monte Williams So. 6-3 5.3 Peoria

F Kipper Nichols R-Jr. 6-6 8.2 Cleveland

C Adonis De La Rosa Gr. 7-0 3.4 Bronx, N.Y.

NOTRE DAME (5-1)

Starters

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G T.J. Gibbs Jr. 6-3 12.8 Scotch Plains, N.J.

G Prentiss Hubb Fr. 6-3 9.3 Upper Marlboro, Md.

G Rex Pflueger Sr. 6-6 8.8 Dana Point, Calif.

G D.J. Harvey So. 6-6 8.5 Bowie, Md.

F John Mooney Jr. 6-9 12.2 Orlando

FYI: The Fighting Irish staked official claim on the city of Chicago already this season with wins against Illinois-Chicago by 17 points, Chicago State by 27 and, most recently, DePaul by 25.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Dane Goodwin Fr. 6-6 5.3 Upper Arlington, Ohio

F Nate Laszewski Fr. 6-10 7.8 Jupiter, Fla.

G Robby Carmody Fr. 6-4 5.5 Mars, Pa.

Details

Site: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center (9,149), South Bend, Ind.

Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Doug Altenberger (analysis) will have the call on the Illini Sports Network on WDWS 1400-AM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WDAN 1490-AM, WDNL 102.1-FM and WPXN 104.9-FM.

TV:Mike Couzens (play-by-play) and Jordan Cornette (analysis) will have the call on ESPNU.

Series history: Illinois leads 27-14.

Last meeting: Notre Dame won 84-79 on Dec. 2, 2015, in Champaign in the grand reopening of newly-renovated State Farm Center.

FYI: Today's game will be the third between the Illini and Fighting Irish since the turn of the century. It used to be a fairly regular series. Illinois and Notre Dame played 39 times between 1922 and 1973. That January 1973 matchup was also the last time the Illini beat the Irish — an 87-84 victory at Chicago Stadium.

Scott Richey's storylines

War of the Boards

Notre Dame has hauled in 36.4 percent of its own misses this season, ranking 34th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage. That's a number bolstered by two big men — junior John Mooney and freshman Nate Laszewski — ranked among the top 200 players in the country in that particular metric. Illinois coach Brad Underwood understands the challenge that presents for his team. Through six games, the Illini rank 247th nationally by giving up an offensive rebounding percentage of 31.4 to their opponents. That message has permeated to the players. "That's something they take pride in, so we've also got to take pride in that," Illini senior guard Aaron Jordan said. "They're physical, so we have to match that. We have to grab as many rebounds as we can from everybody — not just our big men and not just with our guards."

Short turn, no Burn

Normal circumstances would describe today's game as a quick turnaround for Illinois. It's a one-day prep for the Illini after beating Mississippi Valley State on Sunday. The last week isn't normal circumstances. Today's game will be Illinois' fifth in nine days after its Maui Invitational run last week. "We feel like we've got a great opportunity to prepare," Underwood said. "The 14 hours we had in Maui (between the Gonzaga and Iowa State games) was a little quick. At least we get on the court with our guys and can spend a little time addressing what Notre Dame does. We had a good practice (Monday) morning."

Like someone I used to know

Underwood has some history with Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish knocked his Stephen F. Austin team out in the second round of the 2016 NCAA tournament on a tip-in by Rex Pflueger with 0.6 seconds on the clock. "I can't wait to see him in the handsake line," Underwood joked. "He gives me nightmares." This Notre Dame isn't the same — not without recent grads like Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson. "This team is younger," Underwood said. "They do a lot of the same things. They just are young in doing it. (Notre Dame coach Mike Brey's) teams have always been extremely well coached on the offensive end. He's always got that versatile forward. Colson was a handful, and now they've got D.J. Harvey. They're molding those guys into what a true Notre Dame player is."

Prediction: Notre Dame 81, Illinois 77

Don't forget that this Notre Dame team lost at home to Radford. Anything, apparently, is possible. That's particularly true when it's two incredibly young teams like it will be today in South Bend with the Illini and Fighting Irish. (N-G prediction record: 4-2)

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