Notre Dame (5-3) will face Maryland (3-3) on Sunday in the BB&T Classic in Washington, D.C. Tip-off is slated for 4:45 p.m. (ET) inside the Verizon Center. The game will be aired on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) and Versus with Jim Hunter (play-by-play), John Feinstein (analyst) and Byron Kerr (sideline) calling the action.
The Fighting Irish Digital Media radio crew of Jack Nolan (play-by-play) and Sean Kearney (analyst) will call the action on radio (affiliate listings on Pg. 5) and their broadcast can also be heard on UND.com.
This will be the 19th meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Maryland. The Fighting Irish lead the series, 10-8. The last two showdowns occurred at the BB&T Classic. Notre Dame topped Maryland, 79-67, in 2002 en route to the event title. The Irish bested the Terrapins, 81-74, in the 2006 classic. Irish head coach Mike Brey is 2-0 all-time against Maryland.
Maryland is the first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) school the Irish have faced since falling to Florida State, 71-57, during the third round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame's last win against an ACC foe was the 81-74 triumph of Maryland during the 2006 BB&T Classic. Notre Dame is 46-77 all-time against teams currently in the ACC.
Notre Dame is 59-13 (.819) in December under head coach Mike Brey.
BACK TO THE BB&T
This is Notre Dame's third appearance at the BB&T Classic. The Fighting Irish have a 3-0 record in the event, which is held annually in the nation's capital.
In 2002, Notre Dame won the BB&T Classic by defeating #9/8 Maryland, 79-67, in the semifinals and #2/2 Texas, 98-92, in the title game. The 2006 event was under the current one-game format and the Irish bested #23/19 Maryland, 81-74.
George Washington and VCU will meet in Sunday's first game (2:15 p.m.).
Sunday will be a homecoming of sorts for some Irish players and coaches. Sophomore guards Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant hail from the Washington, D.C. area. Atkins is from Columbia, Md., while Grant is from Bowie, Md. Grant played at DeMatha High School, which is the alma mater of Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey and assistant coach Rod Balanis. Brey also served as an assistant coach at DeMatha, which is located in Hyattsville, Md., from 1982-87 under legendary head coach Morgan Wootten.
BREY BOASTS SUCCESS IN THE VERIZON CENTER
Notre Dame is 7-3 at the Verizon Center under head coach Mike Brey. His Irish squads are 4-3 versus Georgetown in the facility, 2-0 against Maryland and 1-0 versus Texas. Notre Dame won its last trip to the Verizon Center, a 78-64 triumph of Georgetown during the 2009-10 campaign (Feb. 27, 2010). The Irish will return to the Verizon Center later this season to face the Hoyas on Feb. 27.
Notre Dame has used five different starting lineups in its first eight games of the season. Senior Scott Martin and sophomore Jerian Grant are the only two Irish players to start every game this season.
Sophomore guard Jerian Grant has team-high totals in points (110), assists (37) and minutes played (269) and is tied for the team lead in steals (9). He has made a team-high 13 three-pointers.
Grant is shooting 55.0% (33-60) from the field, which includes a 50.0% (13-26) mark from three-point range. Grant has a team-best 3.08 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Grant posted his first career double-double by notching 12 points and a career-high 11 rebounds in last Sunday's win over Bryant.
Grant has reached double-figures in points a team-best seven times this season. He became the first first-year Notre Dame player to reach double-figures in points in his first four games since Luke Harangody began his career with five straight double-digit games during the 2006-07 season.
ATKINS ON THE ATTACK
Sophomore point guard Eric Atkins is averaging 13.8 points-per-game this season, which is tied with Jerian Grant for the team lead. Atkins has scored in double-figures in four of the six games he has played in this season. He missed two games (Sam Houston State & Delaware State) due to illness.
Atkins dished out a career-high nine assists in Sunday's win over Bryant.
Atkins scored a career-high 27 points in the season-opening victory over Mississippi Valley State. Against Mississippi Valley State, Atkins was 6-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-3 from three-point range, and 12-of-12 from the free-throw line. Both the three-point and free-throw totals were career-high figures.
Atkins is 27-33 (.818) from the charity stripe this season. He is 8-11 (.727) from three-point range.
Freshman Pat Connaughton has scored in double-figures four times this season.
Connaughton's 24 points against Sam Houston State (Nov. 16) were the most for a Notre Dame freshman since Torin Francis had 25 against Arizona in the Sweet 16 of the 2003 NCAA Tournament (March 27, 2003).
Connaughton's six made three-pointers (on 10 attempts) against Sam Houston State were the most for an Irish freshman since Chris Thomas had six against Connecticut in the semifinals of the 2002 BIG EAST Tournament (March 8, 2002).
Connaughton's 24 points off the bench in the Sam Houston State game were the most bench points by an Irish player since Chris Quinn netted 25 against Quinnipiac during the 2003-04 campaign (Dec. 23, 2003).
COOLEY CRASHING THE BOARDS
Junior forward Jack Cooley notched his first career double-double by registering 11 points and 17 rebounds against Delaware State (Nov. 18). The 17 rebounds, which included 10 offensive boards, were a career-high total for Cooley. He became the first Irish player to haul down that many rebounds in a game since Luke Harangody had 17 against Louisville during the 2008-09 season (Feb. 12, 2009).
Cooley leads the Irish with a 7.0 rpg. average this season.
DRAINING FROM DEEP
Notre Dame has hit 10 or more three-pointers in a game three times this season. The Irish deposited 11 treys against Bryant (Nov. 27) and Delaware State (Nov. 18) and they hit 10 versus Sam Houston State (Nov. 16). The Fighting Irish made 10 or more three-pointers in a game seven times last season.
416 AND COUNTING
Notre Dame has made at least one three-pointer in 416 straight contests dating back to the 1998-99 campaign. The Fighting Irish have made at least one three pointer during every game of the Mike Brey era. The last time an Irish team failed to hit a three-pointer in a game was in a 101-70 loss to Connecticut at the Hartford Civic Center on Jan. 12, 1999. Notre Dame finished 0-7 from beyond the arc in that contest. In 2008-09, the Irish set a single-season three-point record with 319.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Five Irish players - Eric Atkins, Joey Brooks, Alex Dragicevich, Jerian Grant, and Scott Martin - scored in double-figures in Sunday's 84-59 win over Bryant. It was the first time Notre Dame had five double-figure scorers in a game since the semifinals of the 2011 BIG EAST Tournament against Louisville (March 11, 2011).
Notre Dame's 84-59 win over Bryant on Sunday upped the Fighting Irish home win streak to 24 games.
SHARING THE ROCK
Notre Dame dished out a season-high 24 assists (on 31 baskets) in Sunday's win over Bryant. The Irish have registered 20 or more assists in a game three times this season.
BROOKS BOASTS BIG GAME AGAINST BRYANT
Junior guard Joey Brooks matched a career-high total with 13 points on Sunday against Bryant. He made a career-high two three-pointers (on two attempts). Brooks also blocked a career-high three shots. Those were the first blocks of his career.
Seven teams on Notre Dame's 2011-12 schedule are ranked in the latest Associated Press top-25 poll. Five of the squads - #4 Syracuse, #6 Louisville, #8 Connecticut, #16 Marquette and #17 Pittsburgh - are BIG EAST foes, while the Fighting Irish faced #13 Missouri and #19 Gonzaga in non-conference action. The Irish will face eighth-ranked UConn twice during the regular season.
Notre Dame will battle instate rival Indiana in the inaugural Crossroads Classic at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. The game between the Irish and the Hoosiers is part of a doubleheader on Saturday, Dec. 17. Purdue and Butler meet in the first game at 2:00 p.m. (ET) followed by Notre Dame and Indiana at 4:30 p.m. (ET).
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
Notre Dame will have 17 television appearances during the 2011-12 season. The Irish will appear on ESPN's family of networks 16 times in addition to being on CBS once.
Freshman guard/forward Pat Connaughton also is a pitcher on the Fighting Irish baseball team. Connaughton is the 66th Notre Dame student-athlete to compete in both basketball and baseball and the first to do so since Tom Hansen during the 1973-74 academic year.
Forward Tim Abromaitis suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee at a morning team practice on Nov. 25 and will miss the remainder of the 2011-12 campaign. Abromaitis, who is in his fifth season with the Irish, had played in two games (Missouri and Georgia) and was averaging 14.0 points and 7.0 rebounds. He had missed Notre Dame's first four games due to a misunderstanding of a technicality in an NCAA rule governing seasons of competition that dated back to the 2008-09 campaign when he played in the first two exhibitions of his sophomore campaign and then sat out the remainder of that season.
Abromaitis was selected to the 2011-12 preseason watch lists for both the John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy. Both awards are presented annually to the national player of the year. He also was named to the six-man preseason All-BIG EAST First Team. In addition, the Irish forward is one of 30 candidates up for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin will captain the Fighting Irish during the 2011-12 season. Abromaitis is the 19th player in program history to serve as a two-time team captain.
WHAT A RUN
The past four seasons has produced the most regular-season BIG EAST victories (46) in school history. The Irish have gone 46-26 in BIG EAST regular-season play over the past four seasons.
Last season's 27 wins overall (27-7) were the most in the modern era of Fighting Irish basketball. Notre Dame's highest win total ever was 33 (33-7) in 1908-09.
The 14 regular-season BIG EAST victories in 2010-11 tied the program standard. The Fighting Irish went 14-4 in BIG EAST play in 2007-08.
Notre Dame's 15 BIG EAST wins (14 regular season, 1 tournament) last season were the most in program history (combined regular season and tournament).
Mike Brey is in his 12th season along the Irish sidelines. He is the third-longest tenured coach in the BIG EAST, behind only Jim Boeheim of Syracuse and Jim Calhoun of Connecticut. Brey stands sixth all-time in career BIG EAST victories (both regular-season and tournament) with his 119-83 (.589) mark. He is one of eight coaches in BIG EAST history to record 100 conference wins.