Villanova vs. Notre Dame Line at Fighting Irish -5

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Carrie Stroup
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Villanova vs. Notre Dame Line

The Villanova vs. Notre Dame was at Fighting Irish -5 with a total of 140.5 at

Yogi Berra would be a big fan of the Villanova Wildcats basketball season, unfortunately Yogi Berra is not the head coach, Jay Wright is, and he’s not loving the look of things lately, because frankly, this season is looking like déjà vu all over again. Last season, the Wildcats lost five of their last seven games going into the NCAA Tournament, and after earning a #2 seed, struggled to get by the #15 seed Robert Morris in overtime, before falling in the second round to the Gaels of St. Mary’s, ending the season at 25-8. This year, with two games left in the regular season, Villanova has lost four of its past six, and with road contests against the top two teams in the Big East on the schedule before the start of the league tournament, 2011 is starting to hold uneasy similarities to 2010. To avoid repeating history, ‘Nova needs to put the brakes on the present in a big way. It will get that chance Monday night in South Bend against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

The Irish have won nine of their past 10 games, and at 12-4 in Big East play, have somehow pulled to within a game of conference-leading Pittsburgh in the standings. Mike Brey’s team is coming off a come-from-behind 60-48 victory over Seton Hall on Saturday. Notre Dame overcame a three-point halftime deficit, and a first half performance that included seven turnovers and 32% shooting, to regroup during the intermission. They entered the half with momentum after Tim Abromaitis cut the lead from six to three with an off balance three pointer as time expired in the half. It was the type of shot that swung momentum. "It was nice going into the locker room with only a three-point deficit," Abromaitis said. "The shot might have been a little bit lucky, but it was good for us to see it go down. I think it helped us make up for the good shots we had that didn't go down."

Abromaitis finished with 22 points and eight boards, this performance followed his 28-point, five-rebound effort versus Providence in a 94-93 win last Wednesday. Big East POY candidate Ben Hansbrough (18.0 PPG, 4.0 APG, 3.9 RPG) continued his stellar play. Hansbrough had 21 against the Hall and 32 versus the Friars, and is averaging 24.0 PPG over his past three games on 52% shooting (24-of-46). The Irish can clinch a double bye in the Big East Tournament with a victory over the ‘Cats. Notre Dame last defeated Villanova in January 2008. Their last home victory against Villanova was January of 2007.

Villanova is coming off of a humbling 81-68 home defeat at the hands of the sizzling St. John’s Red Storm. Dwight Hardy continued to strengthen his argument for all-league honors and conference POY consideration with another dazzling performance, leading all scorers with 34 points. Villanova became the sixth ranked team to fall victim to the Johnnies this season. While Corey Fisher produced seven assists and only one turnover, he struggled from the floor, scoring just two points, while shooting just 1-for-10, and 0-for-8 from beyond the arc. While fellow senior Corey Stokes was able to pick up the slack with six three-pointers and 20 points overall, the ‘Cats shot just 40% on the day. Normally dominant on the boards for most of this season (38.2 RPG, 36th-best in Division I) Villanova was outrebounded Saturday 39-33. The biggest concern is the play of Fisher. Outside of his 34-point effort against DePaul on February 19, Fisher (15.5 PPG) has been well below his scoring average in four of his past five games, tallying just 11, 12, 8 and 2 points in those contests. If the ‘Cats are to have a chance of not repeating the great slide of 2010 in 2011, Fisher needs to regain his shooting stroke in a hurry.

Notre Dame is a perfect 16-0 SU at home with a stellar 8-4 ATS mark in South Bend. It has outscored visitors 81.4 to 64.2 PPG and out-shot these opponents 48.0% to 40.7% FG. The Irish are also a winning bet overall (14-10 ATS) and in conference play (9-7 ATS). The Wildcats are 1-9 ATS in their past 10 games, including six straight ATS defeats.

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