A loss to No. 3 Michigan State that dropped in the Notre Dame basketball team in the polls last week looked to be just a minor hiccup for a team that climbed as high as No. 5 in the AP Poll following a Maui Invitational championship.
Now, there’s concern that the issue might be much deeper.
A last-second three-pointer made by Ball State doomed Notre Dame to a home loss on Tuesday. It was the first time the Cardinals have ever beaten a ranked team on the road. The Irish responded with a 24-point win at Delaware, but it wasn’t enough to assuage the concerns of voters. Notre Dame fell nine spots, to No. 18 in the AP Poll.
In its two losses, Notre Dame has struggled both defensively and on the glass. Ball State scored 46 points in the second half en route to 80 total points in the upset. The Cardinals out-rebounded the Irish 40 to 26. In Notre Dame’s loss to Michigan State, it was out-rebounded 42 to 21.
Notre Dame has also struggled with depth at times this season. The Irish’s five starters combined to score 71 of the team’s 77 points against Ball State. Star forward Bonzie Colson did his part, scoring 26. Yet the Irish had just two bench players, John Mooney and D.J. Harvey, see significant playing time. Mooney scored six points and Harvey didn’t score at all.
Notre Dame began the season with fairly lofty expectations, being ranked No. 14 in the preseason AP poll, then quickly ramped up the hype. The Irish easily defeated DePaul on the road in their season-opener, then cruised to comfortable wins over Mount St. Mary’s and Chicago State. The Irish then traveled to Maui for the Maui Invitational, which they won thanks to a thrilling, one-point victory over Wichita State in the final.
The loss to Michigan State dropped the Irish from No. 5 to No. 9 in the rankings, where they say prior to this week. Next, Notre Dame will face in-state rival Indiana as part of the four-team Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis.
AP Top 25: Week 5
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