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LAX Preview: Notre Dame vs Marquette

May 14, 2017

Who, When, and Where: Marquette (8-7); May 14th @ 12 PM EST; Arlotta Stadium, Notre Dame, IN. Game broadcast on ESPNU.

The Skinny
The #4 seed Fighting Irish take on unseeded Marquette in a rematch of a one-goal contest from earlier this season. The Golden Eagles made the NCAA tournament by the virtue of coming out on top of the Big East tournament and receiving the automatic qualifier. By objective stats, Marquette was the third worst team to make the field of 16, but they’re certainly no pushover given how close they played Notre Dame in their first meeting and their quality win over Denver just last week.

What to Watch
Of paramount importance is the health of Notre Dame’s two stars: Sergio Perkovic and Ryder Garnsey. Both missed Notre Dame’s last tune up game against Army with injury, and the Irish offense looked anemic with them on the sideline. Garnsey will certainly play against Marquette, but was shut down in their first meeting by Nick Grill and isn’t likely to be much of a factor. Perkovic’s wrist injury is far more problematic… if he can’t shoot or play physical, then he isn’t going to be of value out there. Perkovic’s individual heroics were almost single handedly responsible for Notre Dame’s earlier victory over Marquette, so if he can’t go at 100% that’s very troubling.

Marquette plays at a snail’s pace. They stall more than just about any team in the country, and accordingly faceoffs will make a huge difference in this contest. Notre Dame ran out to an early 8-2 lead on Marquette in their April showdown on account of good tempo and possession. Marquette’s comeback came on the back of holding the ball and strangling the life out of the game. Marquette got zero goals from their bench players and only two unassisted goals the entire game. Joseph Dunn was the leading scorer for Marquette with 4 goals and all of them were assisted… Notre Dame’s defense must be aware of him at all times. Offball defense – an area where Notre Dame has struggled mightily at times this season – will ultimately determine whether the Irish can keep Marquette’s offense under wraps.

Notre Dame is 7-1 all-time hosting NCAA tournament games and has made seven straight elite 8s. Notre Dame is also better than Marquette. The logical pick is the Irish to win comfortably, but in rematches the loser usually has an upper hand and Notre Dame is a star driven team with injuries to their two biggest stars. Would the Cavaliers look the same without LeBron and Kyrie at 100%? I’m going to pick Marquette to win 11-8 as Notre Dame fails to win faceoffs and sees their offense sputter without having a “go to” guy
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