ACC Basketball Preview: #9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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The Sports Bank’s college basketball season previews undergo a face lift this season. Rather than counting down the top 111 teams in 111 days, we will go conference-by-conference.  I’ve already counted down the Pac-12, Big 12, SEC, and AAC, and now turn my attention to the already new-look ACC.

After suffering through their first losing season in the Mike Brey era, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are looking for a bounce back year. Getting their best player back should help in that effort.

NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
Last Season: T-11th, 6-12 in ACC, 15-17 overall
Predicted Big East Finish: 9th

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Zach Auguste (Jr)/Martinas Geben (Fr)
PF: Austin Burgett (Jr)/Austin Torres (Fr)/Bonzie Colson Jr. (Fr)
G/F: Pat Connaughton (Sr)/V.J. Beachem (So)
G: Jerian Grant (Sr)/Steve Vasturia (So)
PG: Demetrius Jackson (So)/Matt Farrell (Fr)

Gone: PG-Eric Atkins, C-Garrick Sherman, C-Tom Knight

2014-2015 Outlook:
Having Jerian Grant in uniform for the entire season will provide a major boost. Grant was averaging nearly 20 points through the first twelve games of last season but was suspended for the remainer of the year which played a factor in the Irish missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years. Grant’s versatility in the backcourt makes him a dangerous all-around threat and he will undoubtedly be the leader of this team.

Another key factor in Notre Dame’s resurrection is the play of Demetrius Jackson. The former McDonald’s All-American had a rather pedestrian freshman campaign but needs to take a step forward during his sophomore season. Steve Vasturia adds some shooting off the bench while freshman Matt Farrell provides Brey with a third ball-handler if needed.

Senior Pat Connaughton is another key piece for the Irish due to his experience, shooting, and versatility. He can play on the wing or slide to the four when Brey chooses to play a smaller lineup. V.J. Beachem is a similar styled player and should be part of the rotation as well.

Up-front is where Notre Dame has holes to fill. Zach Auguste and Austin Burgett were role players a year ago who needs to become bigger factors on the inside. A trio of freshmen; Austin Torres, Bonzie Colson, and Martinas Geben will battle for minutes off the bench.

Key Non-Conferences Games:
11/22 vs. UMass (Hall of Fame Tip Off)
11/23 vs. Providence (Hall of Fame Tip Off)
12/3 vs. Michigan State (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/20 vs. Purdue (in Indianapolis)

 

OTHER ACC PREVIEWS:

#10 CLEMSON TIGERS

#11 WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS

#12 MIAMI HURRICANES

#13 BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES

#14 GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS

#15 VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES

 

AAC PREVIEWS:

#1 UCONN HUSKIES

#2 SMU MUSTANGS

#3 MEMPHIS TIGERS

#4 TEMPLE OWLS

#5 CINCINNATI BEARCATS

#6 TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE

#7 UCF KNIGHTS

#8 SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS

#9 HOUSTON COUGARS

#10 TULANE GREEN WAVE

#11 EAST CAROLINA PIRATES

 

SEC PREVIEWS:

#1 KENTUCKY WILDCATS

#2 FLORIDA GATORS

#3 ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS

#4 OLE MISS REBELS

#5 GEORGIA BULLDOGS

#6 TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS

#7 LSU TIGERS

#8 ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE

#9 MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS

#10 TEXAS A&M AGGIES

#11 SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS

#12 AUBURN TIGERS

#13 MISSOURI TIGERS

#14 VANDERBILT COMMODORES

 

BIG 12 PREVIEWS:

#1 KANSAS JAYHAWKS

#2 TEXAS LONGHORNS

#3 IOWA STATE CYCLONES

#4 OKLAHOMA SOONERS

#5 KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

#6 BAYLOR BEARS

#7 WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS

#8 OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

#9 TCU HORNED FROGS

#10 TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

 

PAC-12 PREVIEWS:

#1 ARIZONA WILDCATS

#2 COLORADO BUFFALOES

#3 UTAH UTES

#4 UCLA BRUINS

#5 CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS

#6 STANFORD CARDINAL

#7 WASHINGTON HUSKIES

#8 OREGON DUCKS

#9 ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS

#10 WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS

#11 USC TROJANS

#12 OREGON STATE BEAVERS

 

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Milwaukee to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag), and finished with the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft (nearly a three-peat.) You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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