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Men's College Basketball
Preview
Notre Dame vs Kentucky
When: 8:49 PM ET, Saturday, March 28, 2015
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio

If Kentucky didn't make a big enough statement during the first 4 1/2 months of the season, Thursday's performance put Notre Dame - and the rest of the NCAA Tournament field - on high alert. The top-seeded and undefeated Wildcats are coming off one of the most impressive wins in recent NCAA Tournament history and hope to unleash another strong performance when they face the Fighting Irish in Saturday's Midwest Regional final at Cleveland. The winner heads to the Final Four - a concept that is much more familiar for the Wildcats than the Irish.

Kentucky went to the Final Four in 2011, won the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and finished as the national runner-up in 2014, while Notre Dame has not reached the Final Four since 1978. The third-seeded Irish shot 75 percent in the second half in Thursday's 81-70 victory over Wichita State - their eighth straight win. The Wildcats, of course, have won every game they have played since losing to Connecticut in last year's title game, but few of those wins have been more impressive than Thursday's 78-39 rout of West Virginia.

TV: 8:49 p.m. ET, TBS

ABOUT NOTRE DAME (32-5): The Irish placed four players in double figures Thursday, led by Zach Auguste (20 points), while All-American candidate Jerian Grant chipped in nine points and 11 assists. Notre Dame is the second-best shooting team in the nation (51 percent), while five players on the team - paced by Pat Connaughton (92) - have drained at least 40 3-pointers. "I'm sure whenever it ends I'll be able to look back and (say) it's been an amazing season for us," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey told reporters, adding "I don't know if we've had a more special season in the history of our basketball program."

ABOUT KENTUCKY (37-0): The Wildcats became the first team to double-up an opponent this late in the NCAA Tournament, while their 39-point margin of victory matched a Sweet 16 record and their 39 points allowed marked the fewest given up in the Sweet 16 since 1975. Trey Lyles (14 points) and Andrew Harrison (13) led five players in double figures for Kentucky, which limited West Virginia to 24.1 percent shooting. "They were what I thought they were," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins told reporters. "That's the best defensive team I think that I've ever coached against. And when they're making shots, there's nobody going to beat them."

TIP-INS

1. Wildcats freshman F Karl-Anthony Towns, a potential No. 1 pick in this summer's draft, was 0-of-3 against the Mountaineers and has made 13 field goals in his last five games, eight of which came in the round of 64 victory against Hampton.

2. Kentucky C Willie Cauley-Stein has registered multiple blocks in nine of his last 10 games.

3. Connaughton grabbed 19 rebounds in the last two games and is the leading rebounder for Notre Dame at 7.4 per game despite standing 6-5.

PREDICTION: Kentucky 79, Notre Dame 68
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Neutral Day Night Conf
Notre Dame 32-5 W8 17-2 7-2 8-1 9-3 23-2 17-4
Kentucky 37-0 W37 19-0 10-0 8-0 15-0 22-0 21-0
Last Meeting
Notre Dame Kentucky
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
11/29/12 UK 50 ND 64 64 28 48.0 50 26 40.4
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Notre Dame E. Atkins 16 63.6 1
Kentucky J. Mays 16 50.0 2
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Notre Dame J. Cooley 11 6 5
Kentucky A. Goodwin 7 0 7
Assists Player  
Notre Dame J. Grant 6
Kentucky A. Goodwin 5
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Notre Dame J. Grant 613 48.4 164
Kentucky A. Harrison 412 39.4 76
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Notre Dame P. Connaughton 273 39 234
Kentucky K. Towns 247 86 161
Assists Player  
Notre Dame J. Grant 247
Kentucky A. Harrison 133
Quickchart Matchup
Notre Dame Off vs  Kentucky Defense
78.3 Points For
53.5 Points Against
51.1 FG%
34.8 FG%
30.2 Reb
27.4 Reb
Kentucky Off vs  Notre Dame Defense
74.8 Points For
65.7 Points Against
46.6 FG%
42.5 FG%
27.4 Reb
30.1 Reb