It can't get much more difficult that it will be for the Notre Dame Fighing Irish (11-8, 3-3) on Saturday afternoon when they take on the undefeated and No.1-ranked Syracuse Orange (20-0, 7-0). Big East conference play can always be a wrecking ball, but any time you take on a team that's riding a 20 game winning streak, while suffering a two-game losing streak yourself, it compounds the matter by tenfold. The one thing that cuts in favor of the Irish is that they host the game. They are 10-1 at home this season, while Syracuse has only played four true road games thus far. Then again, the Orange has won seven out of the last eight times they have played Notre Dame on the road. Still, maybe ESPN knows something we don't when it comes to this one.
The Orange have done a lot of good things this season, but an unsung hero along the way has been point guard Scoop Jardine. Although the senior has seen his stats dip a bit from his junior year, he is more efficient and less turnover prone than ever before. SB Nation New York's Jared Smith breaks down why he thinks Jardine is a championship caliber point guard right now:
At times, mainly in the past, Jardine's self confidence hurt SU. However, with a new role in 2012, which takes a lot of his "lets force the issue here" decision making out of his hands, he has become an outstanding assets to guys like Joseph, Waiters, and 3-point threat, junior forward James Southerland, whose productions have all been either more efficient or has increased this season.
Mock Mr. Jardine all you want, but this is one Syracuse basketball beat writer who's standing (and or living and dying) by him.
Here is some information to help you find the game:
Game date, time: 5:00 p.m. CT, Saturday, Jan. 21st, 2012
Location: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, South Bend, IN
Spread: Syracuse is currently favored by 9 points, and the over/under is currently 134.5 points.
Check out, the SB Nation's blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician for everything Orange, whileOne Foot Down is all about the Irish. For more on Big East basketball, visit the SB Nation blog Big East Coast Bias. If you're a college basketball nut, well, SB Nation's college basketball hub will solve your hoops cravings.