Miami Hurricanes Basketball Game 17 Preview: Notre Dame Fighting Irish


Location: Purcell Pavilion, South Bend, Indiana

Time: 2:00 PM


Line: Notre Dame -7.5

The Miami Hurricanes basketball team upset #4 Duke in front of a shocked crowd of Cameron Crazies on Tuesday. The ‘Canes (12-4) seek their 3rd victory in 4 games as they head to South Bend to take on the #12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (16-2). The Miami-Notre Dame rivalry certainly garners more attention when it’s played on the football field, but this hardwood matchup should be a good one nonetheless.

Ivan Cruz Uceda Returns

In September, the NCAA ruled Ivan Cruz Uceda ineligible for the first 16 games of the season because he did not satisfy a rule that requires a student-athlete to enroll in college one year after high school graduation. Uceda, a Junior College transfer from New Jersey, returns to action on Saturday against Notre Dame. Uceda stands at 6’10”, can rebound effectively, and has a pretty nice shooting touch from the perimeter. He participated in Miami’s exhibition game against Eckerd College in November and finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds. I think Omar Sherman will remain in the starting lineup on Saturday, but Cruz could surely make an impact off of the bench and perhaps as a starter in the near future.

Notre Dame’s Zach Auguste Suspended

Zach Auguste, Notre Dame’s top post presence, received a suspension due to an undisclosed academic matter last week. Auguste averages 14.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Irish. Notre Dame does not know exactly when he will return, but some speculate that Auguste will miss the remainder of the season. In Wednesday’s narrow victory over Georgia Tech, the team’s first game without Auguste, the Yellow Jackets outrebounded the Irish and outscored them in the paint. This loss should benefit Miami’s Tonye Jekiri, Omar Sherman, and Ivan Cruz Uceda as well as the perimeter guys when they attack the rim.

Notre Dame Scouting Report

The Irish rank #12 in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls, while lists Notre Dame at 15. Notre Dame figures to be a top-tier ACC team this season.

Similar to Miami’s previous opponent, the Irish possess a prolific offense. They average 82.1 points per game (11th in the country) on a 53% field goal percentage (1st in the country) and 40.7% 3-point field goal percentage (11th in the country). In Notre Dame’s last two games, though, Georgia Tech and Virginia held the Irish to 62 and 56 points, respectively.

This Notre Dane basketball team has one of the top guard tandems in the nation. Point guard Demetrius Jackson and shooting guard Jerian Grant are both very athletic, explosive players that penetrate defenses with ease.

Jackson, a 6’1” sophomore, was rated one of the top-50 overall prospects in the country coming out of high school. In his first season as a starter, he averages 13.8 points per game. He shoots an impressive 43.9% from beyond the arc.

Grant, a 6’5” senior, has played a major role with his team throughout his career. A career starter, Grant earned Big East All-Rookie Team honors as a freshman and Second Team All-Big East honors as a sophomore. Last year, his promising season ended after just 12 games due to an academic-related suspension (sound familiar?). He averages 16.3 points and 6.3 assists per game this year. Grant likes to drive right to the rim and he often tries to do a bit too much. This results in contested shots and the occasional charging foul. If a big shot needs to be taken, Grant will almost certainly do the honors.

In addition to Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame has several potent threats from behind the 3-point line: Pat Connaughton, Steve Vasturia, and V.J. Beachem.

Connaughton, 6’5”, generally plays the small forward position, but he could see some time at power forward due to Notre Dame’s lack of size. This creates a mismatch because Connaughton shoots 45% from three.

Vasturia shoots close to 40% from deep and V.J. Beachem, who plays more of a 6th man role, owns a 53.1% 3-point field goal percentage.


Miami: 71 – Notre Dame: 66

I think the Hurricanes ride the momentum from the Duke victory and take out Notre Dame, another ranked opponent. Frankly, I view the Irish as slightly overrated. Notre Dame is 4-1 in ACC play this season, but their wins do not impress me. The Irish did blowout FSU, but the Seminoles are one of the worst teams in the conference this season. Notre Dame beat Georgia Tech in overtime, North Carolina by 1 point, and Georgia Tech again by just 3 points. Virginia beat Notre Dame by 6 points. Notre Dame’s efficient offense will take a hit with the loss of Zach Auguste, as demonstrated by a pedestrian 62-point output against Georgia Tech on Wednesday.

Miami will need another solid performance from its guards in order to match Notre Dame’s backcourt. Angel Rodriguez, Manu Lecomte, and Sheldon McClellan need to continue to hit the three-ball. Lecomte, who has started the majority of the games this season, may return to the starting lineup after a phenomenal performance against Duke. If Notre Dame mixes in some zone defenses as they did against Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes’ shooters should get some good looks.