The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Florida State Seminoles have never met in college basketball. They’ve played some classic battles in college football, including #1 vs #2 “game of the century” in South Bend in 1993.
They’ll meet on the United Center hardwood Sunday night, with a NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance on the line. Expect a tough, physical and very defensive-minded game. The Seminoles specialize in defense, and they have their main weapon back in junior forward Chris Singleton. The 6-9 forward is the ACC’s Defensive Player of the year, and a probable NBA Draft pick.
By Paul M. Banks
“Another big guy, another guy who’s long and athletic coming back into the lineup. It’s just adding to their arsenal of length and big guys. So we’ve got to be prepared for that,” ND senior forward Carleton Scott said about the match-up.
Singleton had 5 points in 16 minutes in FSU’s 57-50 opening round win over Texas A&M. The ‘Noles controlled the boards 35-33 in that game while the Irish won their second rebound battle on the glass 41-32 over Akron in their 69-56 win.
The Irish have done it with “rebounding by committee” this season, although they strayed from the strategy a bit as senior forward Carleton Scott had twice as many rebounds (14) as anybody else in that game.
“Every time we scout a team, we talk about out-rebounding them, and that’s going to be a jump start on our offense,” Scott said.
“As long as we concentrate on the boards, I think we’ll win the battle down there. We do a good job of team rebounding. Like I said, that’s why our main focus is on defense.”
Scott is a San Antonio, TX native, so a win for him tomorrow night would be extra special as his hometown is the location of the next round.
For the Seminoles, they’re main focus will be stopping Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough, or “Captain Floorburn” as I like to call him. He’s extremely energetic and emotional and perhaps no one works as hard as he does in the college game. Versus Akron, Hansbrough had far from his best game, and will be looking to redeem that in this round.
With the work he puts in, expect big results Sunday night. He’s known for a very unique but intense practice drill, dribbling around chairs and running sprint-cuts on the course.
“A lot of people have asked me about it, but I’ve been with this being our spring break, I’ve really only been around the team. I’m assuming you’re talking about that Chicago Tribune article.
Yeah, I haven’t had a chance yet, but after the season, I’m sure I’ll have a chance to help more people out with showing them what I do in my workout, and hopefully I can maybe release something and maybe something will happen,” Hansbrough said about his trademark workout routine.
Notre Dame came into the season unranked and considered a NCAA bubble team. Yet here they are #2 seed playing less than 100 miles from campus and on the verge of reaching the round of 16. Brey talked about how this team exceeded expectations:
“I think great leadership and older guys that had a drive about them. Much has been talked about Ben Hansbrough’s edge and leadership and drive, but the other three guys that were just up here with him have all had a style in that.
Certainly, though, Ben in the summer couldn’t wait to be the voice. And I don’t mean this negatively. It always happens. Those rotating up captains, like Ben was, couldn’t wait for (Tory) Jackson and (Luke) Harangody to get out of the building so they could put their mark on.
And you know what, Abromaitis, Carleton Scott, and Scott Martin can’t wait for Hansbrough and Ty Nash to leave so they can also then kind be the voice.
That voice in the summer was pretty strong. It was really strong early. I thought we’d be good. We were better earlier than I thought. And in Orlando, winning the Old Spice gave us a lot of confidence.”
Tip time is 8:40 CT. Expect a classic battle with two schools rich in tradition and featuring iconic fight songs.
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