Michigan State at Notre Dame ACC/Big Ten challenge tipoff: Matchup analysis and a prediction

Michigan State last played Notre Dame on Nov. 28, 2020 in East Lansing, a game played in front of no fans and won by MSU, 80-70.
Michigan State last played Notre Dame on Nov. 28, 2020 in East Lansing, a game played in front of no fans and won by MSU, 80-70.

• What: Michigan State at Notre Dame, the final ACC/Big Ten Challenge

• When: 9:15 p.m. Wednesday

• Where: Joyce Center, South Bend, Indiana

• TV/Radio: ESPN2/Spartan Sports Network radio, including WJIM 1240-AM and WMMQ 94.9-FM; Sirius/XM Ch. 383 (MSU broadcast)

• Records/Rankings: MSU is 5-2 and ranked No. 20 in both The Associated Press and Coaches polls. Notre Dame is 5-1 and unranked.

• Betting line: MSU -2

• Coaches: MSU — Tom Izzo is 671-269 in his 28th season as a head coach, all with the Spartans. Notre Dame — Mike Brey is 576-312 in his 28th season as a head coach, including 477-260 in his 23rd season with the Irish.

• Series: MSU leads 62-37 all-time. These two famously met in the 1979 NCAA tournament regional finals, a game won by MSU, and have only played three times since, all in the last decade — twice in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with Notre Dame winning in 2014 and MSU winning in 2017, and then in East Lansing during the COVID season in late November 2020, a game won by MSU.



C (22) Mady Sissoko (6-9) 8.0

PF (10) Joey Hauser (6-9) 13.9

F (1) Pierre Brooks (6-6) 8.4

SG (2) Tyson Walker (6-1) 15.6

PG (11) AJ Hoggard (6-4) 11.0

Notre Dame

F (14) Nate Laszewski (6-10) 18.2

G (23) Dane Goodwin (6-6) 14.3

G (5) Cormac Ryan (6-5) 10.0

G (1) J.J. Starling (6-4) 12.8

PG (3) Trey Wertz (6-5) 11.8

• MSU update: The Spartans are coming off two wins in three games at the PK85 invitational in Portland, beating Oregon and Portland, after losing to Alabama. MSU will still be without Jaden Akins and Malik Hall for this game, both out with foot injuries. Hall is expected to be out most of the next month. Akins could return in the next week. The Spartans are winning right now, in part, because of their outside shooting and how they’re defending the 3-point shot. MSU is second among Big Ten teams in 3-point shooting (.378), led by Joey Hauser (.472, 17-for-36) and Pierre Brooks (.412 14-for-34). The Spartans are the Big Ten’s best 3-point defense so far, holding teams to less than 32%. This is the end of a 23-year run for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, which is going away because the Big Ten is ending its partnership with ESPN after this season.

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• Notre Dame update: The Irish are coming off a 63-51 neutral-site loss to St. Bonaventure on Friday in New York, their first defeat of the season. Notre Dame hasn’t been overly impressive in its five wins, either, including single-digit home wins over Radford, Youngstown State and Lipscomb. The Irish were picked to finished sixth the ACC this season, so this was expected to be an NCAA tournament-caliber team. Notre Dame’s issues have largely been on the defensive end, where they’re among the worst in college basketball in creating turnovers and have allowed opponents to shoot too high a percentage (36.4% on 3-pointers, 51% on 2s) be an upper-tier ACC team.

• Inside the matchup: The Irish are not a deep team, playing only six players in their rotation and their starters all more than 33 minutes per game, including more than 37 minutes per night from their top scorers, Nate Laszewski and Dane Goodwin. Laszewski is a fifth-year senior stretch-4 who plays out of position at the 5. He’s a good shooter and skilled with the ball in his hands, but he’s not an overly physical presence. MSU could play small against the Irish with Joey Hauser at the center position and Pierre Brooks at the 4, if Tom Izzo chooses to. The Irish essentially play four guards around Laszewski, with Goodwin, a 6-6 senior, at the power forward spot to start. Goodwin is a capable outside shooter. Senior Trey Wertz is a sizable and seasoned point guard, but he’s not a shooter. The Irish have a couple good freshmen in wing J.J. Starling and 6-8, 225-pound power forward (a real power forward) Van-Allen Lubin, who’s playing 19 minutes per game off the bench and had 10 points and 13 rebounds in Notre Dame’s loss to St. Bonaventure. Those two freshmen give the Irish a more athletic feel.

• Prediction: If the Spartans were entirely healthy, I’d really like this matchup for them. The Irish don't pressure the ball or create problems athletically. But Notre Dame has enough shooters, seasoned players and young talent to go toe-to-toe with this version of the Spartans. This would be a massive win for MSU, escaping November at 6-2. The Spartans are the better defensive team, even shorthanded. That’ll be the difference.

• Make it: MSU 67, Notre Dame 64

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This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: MSU basketball at Notre Dame: Prediction, preview, TV info, how to bet