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Villanova Preview - 10 Things To Know

Dec. 8, 2016

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WHO: #23/22 Notre Dame vs. #1/1 Villanova

Saturday, December 10, 2016 | 12:00 p.m. ET

WHERE: The Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

TICKETS: TicketMasterNATIONAL BROADCAST INFORMATION: CBS with Carter Blackburn (play-by-play) Bill Raftery (analyst) and Jon Rothstein (sideline).

AUDIO BROADCAST INFORMATION: Notre Dame Basketball Radio Network, with Jack Nolan (play-by-play) and Jordan Cornette (analyst).

How To Listen/Watch The IrishHere are the 10 Things To Know about the Notre Dame – Villanova matchup on Sunday:


The University of Notre Dame men’s basketball team (9-0) travels to Newark, New Jersey, for the inaugural Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center, taking on top-ranked Villanova (9-0) on CBS at Noon ET. The first of what will be an annual doubleheader, the event will partner with the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, which helps support the education of children of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The Notre Dame – Villanova matchup, nationally televised on CBS will lead into the annual Army-Navy game. Game two will feature Pittsburgh and Penn State on the CBS Sports Network.

Established within one week of September 11, 2011, the Familes of Freedom Scholarship Fund provides education assistance for postsecondary study to financially needy dependents of the people killed or permamently disabled in the terrorist attacks. The fund has already delivered millions of dollars in scholarship support and will continue to offer educational assistance through the year 2030, ultimately delivering more than $100 million to affected family members.

While in the New York area for the 2016 Legends Classic, Notre Dame visited the National September 11 Memorial and Museum and spent time with the organizers of the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund and the Prudential Center, the organizers of the event.


Notre Dame and Villanova will be meeting for the 36th time on Saturday, with the Wildcats leading the all-time series 18-17.

The teams first met in 1970, a 94-92 Notre Dame victory at Purcell Pavilion (then known as the Athletic and Convocation Center). The second meeting ended up as a 99-81 victory for #18/nr Villanova over #9/10 Notre Dame at the Palestra in 1971.

In the Mike Brey era, the Irish lead the all-time series 7-6, including wins in the last three most recent meetings (93-72 at Purcell Pavilion in 2011, 74-70 in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center and 65-60 in Purcell Pavilion in 2013 – which was the final meeting between the two teams as Big East Conference opponents).

Notre Dame set the school record for three pointers in the 2011 victory at Purcell, as #8/7 Notre Dame defeated #19/19 Villanova. In the 2012 meeting at the Wells Fargo Center, Notre Dame erased a 20-point Villanova lead in and overtime victory. The Irish held the Wildcats to six field goals in the second half to force overtime, then hit three of four three pointers in the extra session to earn the victory.

In ranked matchups, Notre Dame is 7-2 as the only team ranked, Villanova 7-1 when it is the only team ranked and the Wildcats lead the series 2-1 when both teams are ranked. Notre Dame was 7-13 against Villanova as a member of the Big East Conference.


In the Mike Brey era, Notre Dame has faced the defending national champion 11 times, coming away with a victory on seven occasions.

The most recent matchups with the defending national champion occurred last year, when the Irish defeated 2015 champion Duke 95-91 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 16, 2016, then defeated the Blue Devils 84-79 in overtime at the ACC quarterfinals on March 10, 2016.

The Irish have a four-game win streak against the defending national champion, as the two Duke victories in 2016 are combined with a 64-50 victory over 2012 champion Kentucky on Nov. 29, 2012, and a 50-48 win against 2011 champ UConn at the Excel Center on Jan. 29, 2012.

Historically, Notre Dame is 17-25 all-time against the defending national champion.


Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey and Villanova head coach Jay Wright have followed a similar coaching track throughout their careers and have matched up with each other at their respective Division I head coaching jobs.

Going back to the America East Conference, Mike Brey is 16-10 against Jay Wright (9-4 at Delaware from 1996-2000, 7-6 at Notre Dame from 2002 – present).


Notre Dame owns 11 wins over a number-one ranked team (11-35 overall), with eight of those victories coming over the AP top-ranked team. The most recent victory over a top-ranked team came last season, when the Irish defeated No. 2/1 North Carolina 80-76 at Purcell Pavilion.

The NCAA official record book recognizes wins over the AP No. 1 ranked team, Notre Dame is tied for the fourth-most all time behind North Carolina (13), UCLA (11), Maryland (10) and Duke (9).

The most recent victory over the AP No. 1 team came on January 21, 2012, when the Irish knocked off top-ranked Syracuse 67-58.

Notre Dame’s last victory over the top-ranked AP team at a neutral site occurred at Allstate Arena (then known as the Rosemont Horizon) when No. 11/11 Notre Dame knocked off No. 1/2 Virginia 57-56.


Junior forward Bonzie Colson earned his first ACC Player of the Week Award on Dec. 5, 2016, after helping the Irish to a 2-0 week and an 8-0 start to the season (now 9-0 after the victory over Fort Wayne), while enjoying a personal five-game streak of double-double performances.

Against Iowa in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Colson was dominant in the paint with a game-high 24 points, a career-high 17 rebounds and finished a perfect 12-12 from the free throw line. Colson helped the Irish out-rebound the Hawkeyes 45-32.

Colson ended up with his fifth consecutive double-double in the victory over North Carolina A&T while only playing 26 minutes. Notre Dame’s leading scorer was not needed in the 54-point victory, the largest margin of victory in Purcell Pavilion history, but he was still able to grab a game-high 11 rebounds. Colson was one of a school-record seven Irish players to score in double figures in the contest.

For the week, Colson averaged 17.0 ppg, 14.0 rpg and 2.5 bpg.

The award marks the first ACC weekly award earned in Colson’s career.


Notre Dame is first in the country (as of Dec. 8) in free throw percentage, shooting 85.9 percent (159-185) from the charity stripe this season. Here are some of the superlatives for the team from its free throw shooting –

  • Junior Matt Farell is tied with two other players in the country with a perfect 1.000 shooting percentage from the free throw line (24-24).
  • Dating back to the 2015-16 season, Farrell has connected on 28 consecutive free throws.
  • Farrell is the first Notre Dame player in the Brey era to begin the season connecting on his first 24 free throw attempts.
  • Farrell combines with Steve Vasturia (6th, 30-31, .968) to give Notre Dame the only team in the country with two players in the national top six for free throw shooting.
  • Farrell and Vasturia combine with Bonzie Colson (28th, 44-48, .917) to give Notre Dame the only team in the country with three players in the top 30 for free throw shooting.
  • Colson’s 12-for-12 effort at the free throw line against Iowa tied four other ND players the fourth-best in school history.
  • Notre Dame has missed three or less free throws in eight of nine games this season and hit all 14 attempts in the victory over North Carolina A&T.
  • Over the course of the three games with Iowa, North Carolina A&T and Fort Wayne, Notre Dame combined to hit 31 consecutive free throws as a team.


Notre Dame enters the game against Villanova with a 9-0 record – the best start of the Mike Brey era (since 2000-01).

The 2010-11 team won its first eight games (also the most recent season the Irish won an in-season tournament – the 2010 Old Spice Classic), while the 2001-02 team won its first seven games.


Notre Dame has posted the best start of the Mike Brey era with a 9-0 record to begin the 2016-17 season. The 9-0 start also ranks among the best in the history of the program.

In 112 full seasons of basketball at Notre Dame, only four teams have won nine or more games to start the season.


1 –

Naismith Award and Wooden Award watch list selections on the 2016-17 Irish roster – senior forward V.J. Beachem (16.8 ppg, .442 FG%, .362 3FG% in nine games this season).

2. 34 –

Assist-to-turnover ratio for Notre Dame this sesason, the best in the nation.

3 –

Notre Dame is the only team in the country with three players ranked in the top-30 in the nation for FT shooting – Matt Farrell (1st, 24-24, 1.000), Steve Vasturia (6th, 30-31, .968) and Bonzie Colson (28th, 44-48, .917). Farrell and Vasturia also are the only teammates ranked in the national top-six (Farrell tied for first, Vasturia sixth).

4.83 –

Assist-to-turnover ratio for freshman T.J. Gibbs, first in the ACC and seventh in the nation. Gibbs has only committed six turnovers in relation to his 29 assists in 132 minutes played.

7 –

Irish players that scored in double figures in the team’s victory over North Carolina A&T, a first in the 112-year history of Notre Dame Basketball. The double-figure scorers were V.J. Beachem (19), Matt Ryan (17), Matt Farrell (15), Steve Vasturia (13), T.J. Gibbs (12), Bonzie Colson (10) and Rex Pflueger (10).

8.1 –

Turnovers-per-game average for the Irish, the best in the nation.

9 –

The Irish are 9-0 in 2016-17, the best start of the Mike Brey era (since 2000-01). The previous best start under Brey occurred in 2010-11 when the Irish won their first eight games.

11 –

At Notre Dame, Mike Brey has faced the defending national champion 11 times, compiling a 7-4 record.

12 –

Statistical categories in which the Irish are ranked in the top 15 nationally.

12.7 –

Rebounds-per-game average for Bonzie Colson in the past six contests for the Irish. Colson is on a run of six consecutive double-double performances and was named the ACC Player of the Week on Monday, Dec. 5.

23 –

Associated Press national ranking for the Irish, the team’s first of 2016-17. Notre Dame is #22 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll.

27 –

Mike Brey and Villanova head coach Jay Wright will be meeting for the 27th time as Division I head coaches on Saturday. Brey leads the all-time series between the two 16-10.

28 –

Consecutive free throws made, dating back to the 2015-16 season, for Matt Farrell, who is tied with two other players in the country for first in free throw percentage this season (24-24, 1.000).

85.9 –

Free-throw percentage for Notre Dame this season, the best in the nation.

365 –

Victories at Notre Dame for head coach Mike Brey, the second-most in Notre Dame history and 28 away from the all-time record (393).

1,828 –

Wins in Notre Dame basketball history, ranked seventh all-time. Since Mike Brey took over the Irish program in 2000-01, the Irish have moved from 12th to seventh on the all-time wins list.