Busting Brackets

Notre Dame vs Saint Mary’s: 2021-22 collge basketball game preview, TV schedule

Jan 16, 2021; Moraga, California, USA; St. Mary's Gaels guard Tommy Kuhse (12) controls the ball against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the first half at McKeon Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 16, 2021; Moraga, California, USA; St. Mary's Gaels guard Tommy Kuhse (12) controls the ball against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the first half at McKeon Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

The final game of the night in the opening round of the Maui Invitational will be Notre Dame vs Saint Mary’s in Vegas. Will the Irish or Gaels get an early-season resume win?

TV Schedule: Monday, November 22, 11:30 pm EST. ESPN2

Arena: Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

This year’s Maui Invitational will be a little different just like it was last year. With the pandemic, the tournament was moved to Asheville, North Carolina in 2020. There was hope that in 2021 it would be back in Hawaii but that, unfortunately, is not happening this year as it will be held in Las Vegas starting on Monday.

No matter where it is we should get another great tournament including some great early game matchups like this game in Notre Dame vs Saint Mary’s.

The Gaels come into this matchup 4-0 on the season. They may still be undefeated but matchups against Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern did not come easy. Saint Mary’s found themselves only up three at the half against Prairie View A&M, while trailing by three to Texas Southern.

The latest game against Bellarmine was not the prettiest either but huge second halves have been common in their games this year so far early on.

Saint Mary’s is an older team led by head coach Randy Bennett which returns everybody off of last year’s roster. It is not shocking to see that the leaders for the Gaels have been the upperclassman in seniors Tommy Kuhse, Logan Johnson, Dan Fotu, Matthias Tass, and junior Alex Ducas.

Forward Dan Fotu has been a big piece off the bench in the first four games of the year. He has scored in double figures in three of the first four games. This is a nice security blanket for head coach Randy Bennett. Guard Tommy Kuhse has come a long way as well. The Gaels guard went from being a former walk-on to being relied on to play heavy minutes night in and night out.

Notre Dame has only played two games which are one of the fewest so far in college basketball in the early part of the season. They have wins over Cal State Northridge and High Point.

Like the Gaels, they have not been the prettiest of games for Notre Dame. The Irish were only up by six points against CSUN in the season opener at halftime and trailed by one at the half against High Point. Notre Dame has played much better in the second halves of both contests but has really not played a complete game just yet.

For Notre Dame, one guy who is fitting right in is graduate transfer forward Paul Atkinson. The former Ivy League player of the year has been very productive having a double-double in each contest. Dating back to his time at Yale Atkinson has scored in double figures in 31 consecutive games.

Notre Dame missed having a big man down low who they could throw it to on the block and get a bucket at any point in the game. Coach Mike Brey and the Irish have one again in Paul Atkinson this season.

According to the latest KenPom rankings, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s are rather close in the overall rankings coming into this matchup. The Irish sit at 36th and the Gaels sit at 44th as of Saturday.

The overall ranking might be close but the offense and defense are the complete opposite. Notre Dame would much rather have the game be high-scoring with their shooters on offense. While Saint Mary’s is the better defensive team so they definitely would rather grind it out and really make you earn it on the defensive end and have the score being in the high sixties range.

With these two teams’ strengths being opposites something will have to give here. Really think this game comes down to three-point shooting. Notre Dame shot 40% in the first game but then 19% against High Point. Saint Mary’s shot at least 33% from distance in their first three matchups but like the Irish really struggled in their latest game only shooting 20%. Whoever is able to capitalize in winning this stat should go a long way in coming out with a victory.

If you stay up for this matchup fully expect a well-played game on both sides who play smart with the ball and do not turn it over much. You also have to see if Mike Brey will be wearing shorts to keep the Maui tradition alive even it is held in Vegas this year. Will Coach Brey top this scene below in the 2021 Maui Invitational as well? Going to have to tune in to find out.

Next. 2021 Maui Invitational preview. dark

Notre Dame shoots it a little bit better and gets a nice resume win in the early part of the season.

Prediction: Notre Dame 74, Saint Mary’s 70