Strength: Defense and deep roster. The Fighting Irish use a slide package that resembles a zone defense with adjacent slides and buttoned-up recoveries. They are extremely well-schooled in the finer defensive details by coordinator Gerry Byrne. Head coach Kevin Corrigan has a roster that's deeper than most other contenders, which will be beneficial if the weather heats up. Weakness: Midfield production and shooting percentage. Corrigan can go eight or nine deep at the midfield, but too many of his foot soldiers are subpar shooters. Steve Murphy, Ryan Foley, Nick Ossello and Will Corrigan hit pay dirt less than 17 percent of the time. X-factor: Midfielder Jim Marlatt (River Hill, pictured) has only one goal in his past three games. The junior was an All-Big East selection in 2012 and can flash moments of brilliance. Now is the time for Marlatt to peak. Notable: Notre Dame hasn't delivered a championship in a Division I men's sport since football in 1988. This program has been sniffing around the trophy and is due. Bracketology: The Irish are No. 1 in the RPI. If they win the Big East title, they will be the No. 1 seed. If they stumble, they still can expect to host a first-round game.
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