NO. 5 NOTRE DAME (25-9) vs. NO. 12 PRINCETON (23-6)
What: NCAA Tournament First Round
Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, N.Y. (19,200)
Time/TV: 12:15 p.m./CBS (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)
Matchup History: Today marks the fourth meeting between Notre Dame and Princeton. The Irish lead the all-time series 2-1.
Last Meeting: The Irish and Tigers last played in 1977, a 76-62 Princeton win. The Irish were ranked No. 2 in the country for that matchup.
“They’re a high-powered offense. It seems like they have a lot of sets, but really it’s just some systematic movement and they just make plays off it. We just have to be able to sit down in a stance and keep them in front of us and not give open looks.” — Notre Dame sophomore guard Rex Pflueger on Princeton
“We’ve got to be attention to detail more than we have all year as far as the 3-point line. People talk about our defense improving, where it’s really improved more than anything is our 3-point field goal percentage defense. It’s going to be tested tomorrow. Forty-six percent of their shots are 3s, we’ve got to be out there ready to contest and from all different areas. They’ll shoot it from two to three feet beyond the line.” — Notre Dame associate head coach Rod Balanis on Princeton
“They're so efficient offensively, the three-point line is your major concern, you know? 45 percent of their shots are from the arc, and they're really efficient, can really shoot it from out there. Chasing people off the arc. Now, that's something we've been pretty good at this year, taking away the arc and getting out. We're third or fourth in the ACC in three-point field-goal percentage defense. But that's a key and then keeping them off the foul line.” — Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey on Princeton
“We've had success in our league, there's multiple teams that played with a very skilled five. With that said, we haven't seen anybody like him. We know it's a challenge. We're ready for it.” — Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson on Notre Dame junior forward Bonzie Colson
THIS WEEK'S STORIES
Scouting Princeton: Princeton is riding a 19-game winning streak entering today's game, having swept the 10-team Ivy League. The Tigers play in a weak league — 17th out of the 32 conferences according to KenPom.com — and lost their toughest non-conference games against BYU, VCU, Cal and Saint Joseph’s.
Guarding The 3: The Tigers take a 3-pointer on 38.1 percent of their offensive possessions, which ranks 46th out of 351 Division I teams. Sophomore guard Myles Stephens is making 42 percent of his attempts. Senior guard Steven Cook is making 41.6 percent. Sophomore guard Devin Cannady — a native of Mishawaka — hits 41.4 recent of his attempts. Five of Princeton’s top-six players have made at least 20 3-pointers this season, a weapon the grind-it-out Tigers use to their advantage.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame has gained confidence in its defense down the stretch, sparked by improved defense against the 3-pointer. Duke shot just 24 percent in the ACC title game and Florida State made 33.3 percent in the semifinals.
Matchup To Watch: Stephens is Princeton’s most unique weapon, averaging 12.6 points and 4.6 rebounds for the Tigers while using plenty of energy on the defensive end. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound native of Lawrenceville, N.J., led Princeton to the Ivy League title, scoring 21 points in the semifinals against Penn and 23 in the title game win over Yale. The Irish have the length defensively to counter the smaller Tigers, and either Vasturia or Beachem will likely draw the assignment to defend Stephens.
Projected Notre Dame Starters:
35 Bonzie Colson (6-5, 225, Jr.) – 17.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg
3 V.J. Beachem (6-8, 201, Sr.) – 15.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg
5 Matt Farrell (6-1, 178, Jr.) – 14.2 ppg, 5.5 apg
32 Steve Vasturia (6-6, 212, Sr.) – 13.3 ppg, 3.4 apg
0 Rex Pflueger (6-6, 202, So.) – 4.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg
2 T.J. Gibbs (6-3, 200, Fr.) – 4.8 ppg, 1.4 apg
4 Matt Ryan (6-7, 228, So.) – 3.4 ppg, 0.8 rpg
23 Martinas Geben (6-10, 255, Jr.) – 3.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg
1 Austin Torres (6-7, 241, Sr.) – 1.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg
Projected Princeton Starters:
25 Steven Cook (6-5, 200, Sr.) – 13.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg
31 Pete Miller (6-11, 230, Sr.) – 2.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg
10 Spencer Weisz (6-4, 210, Sr.) – 10.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg
3 Devin Cannady (6-1, 185, So.) – 13.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg
12 Myles Stephens (6-5, 205, So.) – 12.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg
5 Amir Bell (6-4, 190, Jr.) – 6.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg
13 Will Gladson (6-10, 255, Fr.) – 2.3 ppg, 1.1 rpg
0 Aaron Young (6-0, 180, Jr.) – 1.6 ppg, 0.5 rpg
Notre Dame 71, Princeton 66