IRISH AND TAR HEELS SET FOR FIRST-EVER MEETING AS ACC FOES
Notre Dame (12-11, 3-7) welcomes North Carolina (15-7, 5-4) to Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center on Saturday for the first time as an Atlantic Coast Conference foe. Tip-off is scheduled for noon (ET).
The game can be seen on the ACC Network (check local listings) and on theACC.com. ABC 57 (WBND) will air the contest in the South Bend area. Tim Brant (play-by-play) and Dan Bonner (analyst) will call the action.
A free audio broadcast will be available on WatchND.tv. Jack Nolan (play-by-play) and former Irish standout Jordan Cornette (analyst) will be on the call. The broadcast can also be heard on The Notre Basketball Radio Network headed by WSBT 96.1 FM and 960 AM in South Bend. A complete affiliate list is available on page 5 of this notes packet. The broadcast also is available on Sirius 108/XM 191.
This will be the first of two regular-season meetings between the two teams. The Fighting Irish will conclude the regular season March 3 in Chapel Hill.
Saturday's matchup with the Tar Heels will be North Carolina's first visit to Purcell Pavilion since February 23, 1994 (an 80-71 UNC victory).
THE NORTH CAROLINA SERIES
This will be the 21st meeting between the two schools with North Carolina leading the series 16-4.
The first game in the series was played on Feb. 15, 1958, with the Irish earning an 89-70 victory. Following that win, the Irish lost nine consecutive games to the Tar Heels and did not pick up its second win in the series until a 78-71 victory on March 24, 1973, in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament.
This will be the fourth time that a North Carolina team has visited Notre Dame. The Tar Heels are 3-1 all-time in South Bend and 2-1 at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame's lone victory at home against North Carolina was on Feb. 1, 1987, when the Irish defeated the top-ranked Tar Heels 60-58.
Three of Notre Dame's four wins against North Carolina have come on a neutral floor.
The last Irish win in the series was on Jan. 11, 1992 (88-76) at Madison Square Garden.
Notre Dame and North Carolina last played each other in the championship game of the 2008 Maui Invitational. The No. 1-ranked Tar Heels earned a 102-87 victory.
A DUKE-NORTH CAROLINA TIDBIT
This will be the first time that Notre Dame has played both Duke and North Carolina in the same season since the 1986-87 campaign. The Irish won both of those contests in a span of 14 days. Notre Dame took down the No. 1 Tar Heels 60-68 on Feb. 1 and then defeated the 15th-ranked Blue Devils 70-66 on Feb. 15.
CLOSE LOSSES IN LEAGUE PLAY
Notre Dame's seven losses in ACC play have been by a combined 50 points (7.1 ppg.).
Only one of the seven losses has been by double digits -- Virginia (68-53).
Notre Dame's 11 setbacks this season have been by a total of just 75 points (6.8 ppg.).
ATKINS ON THE ATTACK
Senior point guard Eric Atkins has scored in double-figures in eight of 10 ACC games and he is averaging a team-best 15.2 ppg. in ACC play, which ranks 12th in the league.
Atkins tallied a game-high 24 points last Saturday against Boston College. That performance was capped with the game-winning three-pointer with less than a second left in overtime. That was his fifth 20-plus point effort of the season (third in ACC play).
His 1,300 career points are the fourth-most among active ACC players, while his 544 career assists are the most for any current ACC player.
He recorded his first double-double of the season (fifth of his career) by tallying 19 points and 11 assists in the Jan. 4 win over Duke. The 11 assists are the most for an ACC player in a league game this season.
He scored a career-high 30 points and played all 45 minutes in the overtime victory over Canisius on Dec. 29. Atkins deposited a career-high six three pointers (on eight attempts). The six treys are a team-high total this season.
Atkins was named ACC Player of the Week in consecutive weeks (Dec. 30 and Jan. 6).
ATKINS ASSISTING THE IRISH
Senior point guard Eric Atkins' 2.35 career assist-to-turnover ratio ranks fourth among all active Division I players.
Atkins has 544 careers assists and just 231 turnovers. The career assist total currently ranks tied for 12th nationally. This season, Atkins has 111 assists and 43 turnovers for a 2.58 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is sixth-best in the ACC.
He is averaging 5.3 assists per game in ACC play, which ranks second in the league.
Atkins has dished off 100-plus assists in each of his four seasons. He is one of four players in Notre Dame history to have 100-plus assists in four consecutive seasons. The other three players are Chris Thomas (2001-05), Tory Jackson (2006-10) and David Rivers (1984-88).
TAKING CARE OF THE BASKETBALL
Notre Dame ranks 13th nationally (third in the ACC) with a 1.49 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Irish have the country's 21st-best assists-per-game mark (15.7), which is third in the ACC.
The Irish have dished off 20 or more assists in five contests this season and they have committed fewer than 10 turnovers in 11 games.
PAT PERFORMING WELL IN ACC PLAY
Junior swingman Pat Connaughton is averaging 13.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists in ACC play. He has scored in double figures in all but two league games (Florida State and Virginia) this season.
Connaughton's 24 three-pointers in ACC games are the fifth-most in the league.
He is averaging 6.1 defensive rebounds per game in ACC play, which is tied for first in the conference.
Connaughton tied a season-high mark with 21 points against Virginia Tech on Jan. 19. It was the third time this season (first in ACC play) and seventh time of his career that he scored 20 or more points in a game.
He has four double-doubles (points & rebounds) this season and six for his career.
Connaughton is averaging career-bests of 13.3 points and 7.4 rebounds this season. Last season, he averaged 8.9 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Junior Pat Connaughton has never missed a game during his Fighting Irish career. He has played in all 92 contests, including 76 starts. Connaughton has started 73 consecutive games.
Senior point guard Eric Atkins has played in 88 straight games (all starts). He has only missed two contests during his Notre Dame career and has competed in 124 games (96 starts). Atkins is tied for 101th on Notre Dame's career games played list and is 10th in games started.
Both Atkins and Connaughton played all 45 minutes in last Saturday's win over Boston College and then all 40 minutes against Syracuse on Monday. Connaughton has played every minute in four of the last five games.
Atkins has played 39 or more minutes in 10 games this season, while Connaughton has done so on eight occasions.
Connaughton (38.80) and Atkins (38.70) rank second and third, respectively, in minutes played per game in ACC contests.
BURGETT SURGERY SUCCESSFUL
Sophomore forward Austin Burgett on Jan. 29 underwent outpatient cardiac procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat.
Burgett experienced an abnormally fast heartbeat in the second half of Notre Dame's loss at Florida State on Jan. 21.
Burgett was on the bench for last Saturday's game against Boston College, but did not travel with the team to Syracuse.
He practiced with the team on Thursday and Friday and could see action against the Tar Heels.
SHERMAN COMPILING A SOLID SEASON
Senior center Garrick Sherman is averaging career-bests in points (14.5) and rebounds (8.0) this season. In ACC play, he ranks 14th in scoring (14.6 ppg) and first in rebounding (8.5 rpg).
Sherman's 52.1% shooting percentage this season ranks first among all ACC players.
He tallied a career-high 29 points at Iowa (Dec. 3).
Sherman has a team-high 19 blocked shots this season.
SHERMAN PUTTING ON A DOUBLE-DOUBLE DISPLAY
Garrick Sherman has six double-doubles this season, including three in ACC play, which is tied for the second-most among all league players.
One of his strongest showings of the year came against North Carolina State as he finished with 21 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. The 18 boards are tied for the most for an ACC player in a league game this season.
He scored 20 or more points in consecutive games for the first time of his career when he tallied 21 and 20 against Florida State and Wake Forest, respectively.
PLAYING NUMBER ONE
Notre Dame's matchup at No. 1-ranked Syracuse on Monday marked the 34th time in program history that the Irish played a top-ranked team.
Irish teams are 10-24 all-time against No.1-ranked foes.
Notre Dame is 0-11 in true road games against top-ranked opponents.
FIGHTING IRISH AGAINST THE TOP 10
Notre Dame is 5-5 in its last 10 showdowns with an AP top-10 foe. The Irish are 18-28 against teams ranked in the top-10 of the AP poll under head coach Mike Brey.
Last Saturday's 76-73 win over Boston College improved Notre Dame to 8-1 in its last nine overtime contests. The Fighting Irish have won five straight games that have been decided in overtime. Notre Dame is 15-9 in overtime contests under head coach Mike Brey.
The Fighting Irish are 2-0 in overtime this season. Notre Dame topped Canisius 87-81 in overtime on Dec. 29.
ATKINS NETS OT GAME WINNER
Eric Atkins' game-winning three-pointer with less than a second left in overtime in last Saturday's 76-73 win over Boston College marked the first time Notre Dame won on a "last-second" shot since Tory Jackson's layup against New Mexico with two seconds left that gave the Irish a 70-68 victory in the second round of the 2009 Postseason NIT.
SHUFFLING THE STARTERS
Notre Dame has used eight different starting lineups this season.
Prior to that contest, the last time the Irish had two freshmen in the starting lineup was during the 2006-07 campaign when rookies Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson both earned multiple starts throughout the season.
Notre Dame has lost its first six road games of a season for the first time since the 1993-94 campaign when the Irish started 0-8 on the road.
This is the first six-game road losing streak for the Fighting Irish since they dropped seven straight during the 2008-09 season.
DRAINING FROM DEEP
Eric Atkins (160) and Pat Connaughton (155) rank T-10th and 11th, respectively, in Notre Dame history in three-point field goals made.
Connaughton has a team-high 56 three-pointers this season, while Atkins is second with 43.
As a team, Notre Dame is shooting 35.9% from beyond the arc. That ranks fifth in the ACC.
FIGHTING IRISH FACTS
Since the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Notre Dame is 36-2 when shooting 50% or above from the field, 64-9 when outrebounding its opponent and 66-6 when leading at halftime.
DIGGER PHELPS BECOMES SIXTH INDUCTEE INTO RING OF HONOR
Former Irish head coach Digger Phelps became the sixth inductee into Notre Dame's Ring of Honor during halftime of the Notre Dame-Virginia Tech game on Jan. 19.
More than two dozen of Phelps' former players from his 20-season era (1971-91) returned to campus to see their former head coach inducted into the Ring of Honor.
Notre Dame also commemorated the 40th anniversary of Notre Dame ending UCLA's 88-game win streak. The landmark victory took place at Notre Dame on Jan. 19, 1974. The win streak still remains the longest in men's college basketball history. Eleven members of the squad were recognized for that achievement during a first-half timeout of the Notre Dame-Virginia Tech contest.
ATKINS ON BOB COUSY AWARD WATCH LIST
Senior Eric Atkins was named to the watch list for the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. Atkins is averaging 14.0 points and 4.8 assists per game this season and boasts a 2.58 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The annual honor, announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and is named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic point guard Bob Cousy, recognizes the top point guards in men's basketball. A committee of well-respected media members and influential people within collegiate basketball from around the country comprise the committee. This year's watch list will be narrowed down to a final 20 in early February, then a final five in early March.
IRISH OPEN ACC ERA WITH WIN OVER DUKE
January 4 was a historic day for Notre Dame as it opened its Atlantic Coast Conference era with a 79-77 victory over No. 7 Duke. The win snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Blue Devils that began in 1988. It was Notre Dame's first victory over Duke since a 70-66 overtime win on Feb. 15, 1987, at the Joyce Center.
Duke grabbed a 10-point lead (60-50) with 11:35 left in the second half, but Notre Dame responded with a 10-0 run to tie the game with 8:01 remaining. In fact, the Irish extended it to a 20-4 run to take their largest lead (70-64) of the game with 4:18 left to play.
With Notre Dame's move to the Atlantic Coast Conference, senior center Garrick Sherman now is playing in the third different conference during his collegiate career. Sherman played his first two seasons (2009-11) in the Big Ten Conference while at Michigan State and then transferred to Notre Dame following the 2010-11 campaign. After sitting out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Sherman played last year in Notre Dame's final season in the BIG EAST Conference.
IRISH ENTER THE ACC
Following 18 seasons in the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame is in its first season as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Notre Dame will face each of the other 14 ACC member schools at least once during this season's 18-game conference schedule. Along with home-and-away dates with its "partner schools" Boston College and Georgia Tech, Notre Dame will meet both North Carolina and Virginia twice during the season. The Fighting Irish also will play host to Clemson, Duke, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech. Notre Dame's other road opponents are Florida State, Maryland, Miami, Syracuse and Wake Forest.
The 2014 ACC men's basketball tournament is scheduled for March 12-16 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C.
Notre Dame was picked to finish fifth in its inaugural season of Atlantic Coast Conference play according to a vote of media in attendance at the league's annual "Operation Basketball." Duke was picked to win the ACC title.
BREY NO STRANGER TO THE ACC
Perhaps no person is better prepared to navigate the Irish basketball program into its new basketball conference home than head coach Mike Brey. A Rockville, Md., native, he grew up a Maryland Terrapin basketball fan and his first coaching job in the collegiate ranks was as an assistant coach at Duke for eight seasons.
Beginning in 1987-88, he helped Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski take his teams to six NCAA Final Fours and four national title games while winning back-to-back national titles in 1991 and 1992. The Blue Devils posted a sterling 216-65 record for a 76.8 winning percentage during his tenure at the school. Brey recruited and worked daily with four of the greatest players in that program's history -- Danny Ferry, Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill.
KNIGHT AND SHERMAN JOIN ATKINS AND CONNAUGHTON AS IRISH CAPTAINS
The last time Notre Dame added a captain at midseason was two years ago (during the 2011-12 campaign) when Atkins, then a sophomore, served as a tri-captain with Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin.
Atkins is the first three-time captain in the 109-history of the program, while Connaughton, Sherman and Knight are first-time captains.
NOTRE DAME STUDENT-ATHLETES AGAIN RANK #1 IN NCAA GRS
For the eighth time in nine years, the University of Notre Dame ranks number one on a percentage basis in terms of number of Graduation Success Rate (GSR) 100 scores, among all NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
Twenty of 22 athletics programs at Notre Dame compiled graduation rates of 100 percent, including the men's basketball team, according to the ninth year of GSR measurements developed by the NCAA. It's the first time Notre Dame's programs have combined for 20 perfect scores-after four previous years with 19.
None of the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-A) programs in the country had a higher percentage of 100 GSR scores than did Notre Dame with its .909 number (20 of 22).
In addition, Notre Dame ranked second among all FBS institutions with nine perfect scores among 22 sports (.409) in the federal graduation rate analysis.
Notre Dame has earned appearances in the postseason in each of the last 14 seasons, which marks the longest stretch in school history. The Irish have been to the NCAA Championship on nine occasions and the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) five times during this current stretch. Under head coach Mike Brey, Notre Dame has played in the NCAAs nine times, including a current stretch of four straight trips, and NIT four times.
NOTRE DAME LOOKS TO NOTCH ANOTHER 20-WIN CAMPAIGN
The Irish have recorded seven straight 20-win seasons. It's the first time in program history that Notre Dame has compiled seven consecutive 20-win campaigns. The Fighting Irish have reached the 20-win plateau 10 times in 13 seasons under head coach Mike Brey.
Last season's 25 wins were tied for the second-most of the Brey era. The most wins for the Irish under Brey are 27 (27-7) in 2010-11.
Junior guard/forward Pat Connaughton also is a standout pitcher on the Fighting Irish baseball team. He has appeared in 22 games, including 20 starts, and boasts an 8-6 career record with a 2.43 earned-run average (ERA). He has logged 92.2 innings and has notched 69 strikeouts. As a sophomore, Connaughton went 4-2 and posted a 1.71 ERA.
Connaughton recently was named the No. 46 prospect among 2014 draft-eligible players by Perfect Game in the publication's post-fall college top-50 list. The publication ranked Connaughton as the No. 22 right-handed pitcher.
Connaughton was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 50th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
KNIGHT A NOMINEE FOR NABC GOOD WORKS TEAM
Senior forward Tom Knight is among 117 nominees for the 2014 Allstate NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) Good Works Teams. The award recognizes a select group of college basketball student-athletes who have made significant contributions to the greater good of their communities through volunteerism and civic service.
NOTRE DAME ADDS TWO FRONTLINE PLAYERS FOR 2014-15 CAMPAIGN
Irish head coach Mike Brey recently announced the signing of two frontcourt players to his 2014-15 roster. Bonzie Colson, Jr., a 6-6, 200-pound forward out of New Bedford, Mass., and Martin Geben, a 6-9, 230-pound forward from Vilnius, Lithuania, have signed National Letters of Intent during the early signing period and will enroll in the fall of 2014.