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Syracuse vs. Notre Dame, Big City Classic
Saturday, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
What's at stake Confidence and momentum. Both teams have qualified for the Big East Conference tournament, which begins Thursday at Villanova. The Fighting Irish (10-2) have a terrific playoff portfolio; with another win or two, they could be the No. 1 overall seed. The Orange (10-3) is in line for an at-large bid but has been inconsistent, playing well against Virginia, Hopkins and Cornell while stubbing its toe against Villanova and Hobart. Expect a proud program to be at its best on national television in an NFL stadium.
Who to watch Notre Dame's no-name defense and Orange passer JoJo Marasco. "Marasco is the key initiator for a Syracuse offense that moves the ball exceptionally well and creates opportunities with off-ball movement," ESPN analyst Paul Carcaterra said. "Notre Dame's defense slides early and prevents opponents from scoring off the dodge."
What will make the difference Syracuse has struggled on faceoffs and with off-ball defense, while Notre Dame has problems clearing and with shooting efficiency. "Notre Dame will have to contain Derek Maltz, the Orange crease attackman," Carcaterra said. "Irish early double teams could allow openings inside for Syracuse. Notre Dame's midfield has been struggling shooting, converting around 20 percent as a unit."
May 7, 2012