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Let The BIG EAST Games Begin

Jan 4, 2013, 1:43 PM EDT

Jack Cooley,Ameen Tanksley

Well, it’s finally here … the BIG EAST season.  Seems like forever since the Notre Dame men’s basketball team played its last game, an 89-67 victory over Niagara on December 21, 2012.  Fourteen days ago to be exact.

After a six-day break for the holidays with family and friends, head coach Mike Brey and the Irish returned to South Bend and have been in BIG EAST mode for the gauntlet of conference games and Saturday’s opener against Seton Hall.

The Pirates are off to an impressive 12-2 start and are riding a seven-game win streak heading into the contest.  Seton Hall also won its BIG EAST opener, 73-72, at DePaul on Wednesday night.

Picked to finish third in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll, expectations await Brey and the Irish this season.   Notre Dame heads into conference play riding a 10-game win streak, the third time in the Brey era with a win streak of 10 or more contests.  The Irish are also 45-1 in their last 46 homes games and currently have won 16 straight at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.

Consistency has favored the Irish in recent years in BIG EAST play.  Notre Dame owns a 31-9 (.775) mark against league foes over its last 40 regular-season season contests, including a 24-6 (.800) record over its last 30 league games.  Over the past six seasons, the Irish own the third-best mark in league play with a 70-36 (.660) record.  Since the 2006-07 campaign, Notre Dame has gone 47-6 (.887) at home against BIG EAST opponents, the best home winning percentage in league play over that time period.  The Irish have been undefeated at Purcell in three of the last six campaign and are 19-1 in their last 20 BIG EAST home contests.

In BIG EAST openers, the Irish are 11-6 all-time an 8-4 under Mike Brey.  Notre Dame has won each of last six conference openers.

Approximately four hours following tomorrow’s game, the Irish will board a bus and head to Cincinnati to face a Bearcat team on Monday night on ESPN2.  The game was moved up 30 minutes to 6:30 pm (ET) so that fans can enjoy watching both Notre Dame team.

Playing Seton Hall and Cincinnati 48 hours apart marks the first of four Saturday-Monday turnarounds during the BIG EAST season for Notre Dame.  Something that’s never easy, but expected by Brey and his Irish given the level of expectation and television draw and appeal that Notre Dame possesses.

Bernie Cafarelli (’83) is Notre Dame’s media relations director and the sports information director for the men’s basketball team.

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