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College hoops spotlight: Notre Dame-UCLA

By Matt Youmans  (VSiN senior editor) 

December 8, 2018 08:40 AM
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Notre Dame coach Mike Brey’s go-to guy is junior T.J. Gibbs, one of the top guards in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
© USA Today Sports Images

With an unusually young team, Mike Brey set up a soft nonconference schedule for Notre Dame. The three toughest opponents — Oklahoma, UCLA and Purdue — show up in a row and the Fighting Irish face all three away from home.

After falling to the Sooners 85-80 on Tuesday in New York, the Irish stop in L.A. on Saturday night. Brey’s go-to guy is junior T.J. Gibbs, one of the top guards in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Notre Dame has big guards (6-6 D.J. Harvey and 6-6 Rex Pflueger) and some size inside (6-9 forward John Mooney and 6-11 Juwan Durham) to combat the Bruins. 

Moses Brown, UCLA’s hyped 7-foot-1 freshman, is a raw offensive player. But the Bruins do have skilled guards, especially sophomores Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes.

UCLA struggles in half-court sets and thrives in an open-court style of play. Brey, who probably wants to slow the tempo, is a better tactical coach than Steve Alford.

The Ken Pomeroy ratings (UCLA No. 48; Notre Dame No. 57) accurately tell the story of two teams that probably will miss the NCAA Tournament this season. If Gibbs delivers a big game, the Irish should take the Bruins to the wire.

Play: (795) Notre Dame (plus-6) over UCLA

Other plays for Saturday:

(723) South Carolina (plus-17½) over Michigan

(729) Kentucky-Seton Hall (Under 141)

(733) Pittsburgh (plus-10) over West Virginia

(738) Illinois (-7) over UNLV

(743) Saint Josephs (plus-12) over Villanova

(768) Oklahoma State (-2) over Houston

(778) Marquette (-1) over Wisconsin

(791) Dayton (plus-15½) over Auburn

(804) Connecticut (plus-9) over Florida State

(827) Sacramento State (plus-1) over Portland

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