Notre Dame (14-2, 3-0) at Miami FL (11-3, 1-1)
When: Thursday, January 12th 2016
Where: Watsco Center, Coral Gables, FL
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPN
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The Miami Hurricanes will play for the first time in eight days when they host the 20th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Thursday night in Coral Gables. Miami’s seven-game winning streak was snapped back on January 4th with a 70-55 loss at Syracuse in which the Hurricanes were bad all around. Miami has won 21 consecutive home games, but shot 38.9% from the field and made 2-of-10 foul shots in the road loss to Syracuse. They allowed the Orange to shoot 56.8% in the contest, but Miami still ranks No. 16 in Division I in field-goal percentage defense (38.4%) through Tuesday’s games. Miami’s offense is led by leading scorers Ja’Quan Newton (15.2 points, 4.1 assists) and Davon Reed (14.0), but both had trouble finding open shots against the Orange with Newton shooting 3-of-12 while turning the ball over four times and Reed going 2-of-11. Freshman D.J. Vasiljevic, Miami’s 3-point specialist, came off the bench to shoot 6-of-12 from long range on his way to scoring a career-high 18 points against Syracuse. The Hurricanes, who usually have a big edge at the foul line because of their ability to limit their foes’ attempts, have suddenly gone cold, hitting only 50% of their free-throw attempts over the past three games.
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The Irish will be looking for their first 4-0 start in conference play ever after a 3-0 start in the ACC for the second time, but have never started with four in a row even when in the Big East. Notre Dame needed strong finishes in all three ACC victories, outscoring their foes 25-6 in the final combined 6:42 to defeat Pittsburgh (78-77 in overtime), No. 15 Louisville (77-70) and Clemson (75-70). With a starting five that includes two seniors and three juniors, the experienced Irish are ranked No. 1 in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.89) and free-throw shooting (84.0%) and No. 17 in 3-point field-goal percentage (40.2%) while averaging 82.3 points. Guards Steve Vasturia (15.0 points), Matt Farrell (14.0, team-leading 5.4 assists) and forward VJ Beachem (14.6), have combined to hit 102 shots from beyond the arc. Beachem is coming off a 22-point game in the victory over Clemson. Forward Bonzie Colson leads the Irish in scoring (16.4) while ranking No. 9 in the country in rebounding (10.8).
Notre Dame is on a roll right now and the Hurricanes may be a little rusty after a long layoff. I think the Irish get their first 4-0 conference start with a win tonight.
Pick: Notre Dame +2.5