Bubble Banter: Boise State, St. John’s, Dayton win the day; Texas, N.C. State lose; and Kansas State?

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(This post will be updated as the day progresses.)

Let’s talk about Kansas State for a minute, shall we?

The Wildcats knocked off No. 12 Iowa State today in Manhattan, their second straight massive upset of a Big 12 title contender. This isn’t the first time that they have beaten good teams, either. The Wildcats have also swept Oklahoma, beaten Baylor and Oklahoma State at home, and knocked off Texas A&M on a neutral court. That’s seven top 50 wins for those of you counting at home. All told, Kansas State is 7-10 against the top 50 and 8-11 against the top 100.

The problem?

The Wildcats are 15-15 on the season with four sub-100 losses, including games where they were tripped up at Long Beach State and at home against Texas Southern.

They needed to beat Iowa State just to get over .500 on the season.

Can we really call the Wildcats a bubble team?

At this point, probably not. Their RPI is too low, they have too many bad losses and, frankly, just too many losses period.

But compare this resume to Temple. The Owls have beaten Kansas … and that’s it. They don’t have another top 50 win. In fact, they’ve only played seven top 50 opponents all season long. They also have an ugly loss to St. Joe’s on their resume.

What about Tulsa? The Golden Hurricane have just two top 50 wins on their resume — a sweep of, you guessed it, Temple — and four top 100 wins with losses to Oral Roberts and Southeast Oklahoma State, the latter of which technically doesn’t count because it is a Division II school.

And then there is Texas A&M. As of today, the Aggies do not have a top 50 win, as their sweep of LSU doesn’t look as good when the Tigers drop out of the top 50. A&M doesn’t have any bad losses, however, which should tell you what the committee prioritizes.

Kansas State has work left to do. They play at Texas next week, a game they probably want to win. And it sure wouldn’t hurt to pick up a win or two in the Big 12 tournament. But as crazy as it sounds, Kansas State has managed to put themselves into the bubble conversation this season.

WINNERS

  • Boise State: The Broncos are Saturday’s biggest winners, as they completed a season sweep of San Diego State by going into Viejas Arena, one of the toughest places to play, and leaving with a win. The Broncos jump up to the right side of the bubble with the win, as the Aztecs are a top 25 win. Boise State now has three top 25ish wins and a 6-4 record against the top 100, although those three sub-100 losses are less than ideal. The Broncos can’t slip up against San Jose State or Fresno State, but as of today, they’re probably in the tournament. Considering where they were in December, that’s an incredible accomplishment.
  • BYU: The Cougars got the win that they needed, going into Spokane and knocking off No. 3 Gonzaga, but their work isn’t done yet. Gonzaga now has just one top 50 win on the season. This was their fourth top 100 win to go along with three sub-100 losses. If the tournament started today, BYU would be on the outside looking in.
  • St. John’s: The Johnnies are all but in the tournament after beating Georgetown convincingly on Saturday. They won the two games they needed to win this week, and now have five top 50 wins and a 9-7 record against the top 100. The only reason they’re not a lock yet? They still have to play at Marquette, and St. John’s has a penchant for not playing up to their ability away from home. But even with a loss at Marquette and at Villanova in the finale, the Johnnies still might be in with a loss in the first round of the Big East tournament.
  • Dayton: Welcome to the tournament, Dayton. The Flyers won at VCU on Saturday, a top 15 road win that is now the highlight of an otherwise strong profile. They’re now 22-6 on the season with six top 100 wins and just one bad loss — at Duquesne.
  • LSU: The Tigers picked up a key win on Saturday, completely a sweep of Ole Miss by knocking off the Rebels at home. LSU needs to collect all the quality wins that they can, as their profile has some holes. Namely, they have a non-conference schedule strength ranked in the 170s and three losses to sub-100 teams. They are 10-5 against the top 100, but just two of those 10 are in the top 45. Beat Tennessee at home and the Tigers should feel good about their chances.
  • Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane added a big win to their resume, going into Memphis and notching a come-from-behind win over the Tigers. Adding top 100 road wins at this point in the season never hurts, but the key for this group will be their next two games. They play Cincinnati at home and SMU on the road, a game that will have American title implications.
  • Texas A&M: The best thing that can be said about the Aggie win over Auburn is that it wasn’t a loss. Without any top 50 wins on their resume, the Aggies cannot afford a bad loss. Auburn would have been a bad loss.
  • Georgia: The Bulldogs beat Missouri, which is important mostly because they already have four sub-100 losses on their resume. Georgia is probably in the tournament as of today, but they can lock up a bid next week when they take on Kentucky in Athens.
  • Iowa: The Hawkeyes went into State College and knocked off Penn State on Saturday, keeping them safely above the cut-line and out of real bubble danger. They’d be wise to at least split their last two games — at Indiana, home for Northwestern.
  • Davidson: The Wildcats picked up a big win against George Washington on Saturday, their seventh top 100 win of the season. The Wildcats are still very, very bubbly — their poor strength of schedule, a couple of bad loss and just one top 50 win will do that — but with a visit from VCU coming this week, they’ll have an opportunity to play their way in.
  • Illinois: The Illini avoided a bad loss, smacking around Northwestern in Champaign. Unfortunately for Illinois, they’re probably on the wrong side of the bubble right now, meaning that they cannot afford another loss during the regular season. They’re 3-6 against the top 50 and 5-10 against the top 100, and while they have a pair of top ten wins, they won’t have another chance to boost their profile until the Big Ten tournament.
  • Rhode Island: URI’s slim hopes of getting an at-large bid are still alive after the Rams won at La Salle. It’s their fifth top 100 win, but URI does not have a top 50 win. They do have two sub-100 losses, however. The Rams have to win out, and they probably need at least two wins in the Atlantic 10 tournament to have a real shot.
  • Cincinnati: The Bearcats beat Tulane in New Orleans, which is better than what they did when the Green Wave came to Cincinnati. The Bearcats are in a good spot, and as long as they win one of their final two regular season games — at Tulsa and home against Memphis — they should feel pretty good heading into the American tournament.
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Mark Gottfried (AP Photo)

LOSERS

  • Texas: The Longhorns lost to Kansas on Saturday afternoon, a loss that has dropped them to 17-12 overall and just 6-10 in the Big 12 and will likely find themselves on the wrong side of many bubble projections come Monday morning. Four of those six wins came against TCU and Texas Tech, and with games left against Baylor and the now-streaking Kansas State, Texas could very easily finish the season 6-12 in the Big 12. It will be an interesting debate, Texas has no losses to teams outside KenPom’s top 35, but they’re just 1-12 against the RPI top 50. Should a team that doesn’t lose to bad teams but cannot beat the best of the best deserve a bid to the tournament?
  • N.C. State: In the immortal words of one Jeffrey Borzello, “N.C. State and the bubble are never able to truly break up and go their separate ways.” That sums up the Wolfpack’s week pretty succinctly. After beating down North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Tuesday night, Mark Gottfried’s club went up to Conte Forum to take on Boston College … and got blown out. That adds even more intrigue to a profile that really didn’t need to get murkier. N.C. State has wins Duke and at Louisville and North Carolina. They have five top 50 wins and eight top 100 wins. But they’re also 17-12 overall with a pair of sub-125 losses, including B.C. As of Friday, they were a No. 9 seed in our latest bracket. This loss could drop them a seed line. Maybe two. Word of advice to N.C. State: win at Clemson. Beat Syracuse. Don’t risk it.
  • Oklahoma State: All of a sudden, the Pokes are in some trouble. After losing to Texas Tech on Saturday, Oklahoma State is now 17-11 overall and 7-9 in the Big 12, having lost their last four games. They have six top 50 wins — including three top ten wins — but they also have three sub-100 losses, including a pair in the last two weeks. They get TCU at home next week, which is a win they really need before going to West Virginia next weekend.
  • Ole Miss: The Rebels lost at LSU on Saturday, which is far from a killer loss. It probably won’t even drop Ole Miss off of the No. 9-10 seed range where they are in most projections right now. But it does limit their margin of error. Andy Kennedy’s club already has three sub-100 losses this season and still has to play at Alabama and Vanderbilt at home.
  • Xavier: The Musketeers lost to Villanova at home on Saturday, which is far from a killer loss. A win would have locked up a bid, but at this point, with four top 25 wins and four sub-100 losses, the Musketeers will be in if they beat Creighton next week. Lose, and they’ll still be in a pretty good spot.
  • Miami: The Hurricanes missed on a chance to beat North Carolina in Coral Gables on Saturday, and while that certainly doesn’t hurt their bubble standing, it doesn’t help. And at this point, Miami needs all the help they can get. That win at Duke looks amazing, but it’s basically the only thing keeping a team with four sub-100 losses and just one other top 60 win in the conversation. Miami needs to win at Pitt, win at Virginia Tech and beat a notable team in the ACC tournament to really have a chance.

STILL TO PLAY

Tulsa at Memphis, 8:00 p.m.
Boise State at San Diego State, 8:00 p.m.
Auburn at Texas A&M 8:30 p.m.
BYU at No. 3 Gonzaga, 10:00 p.m.

No. 18 Gonzaga withstands scare from Kent State for 73-66 win

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SPOKANE, Wash. – Drew Timme scored 29 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, and No. 18 Gonzaga closed the game on an 11-0 run to rally past Kent State 73-66 on Monday night.

The nation’s longest home win streak was extended to 69 games but not without a major scare by the Golden Flashes. Kent State led 66-62 with 3:38 left after Miryne Thomas’ 3-pointer, but the Bulldogs tightened on the defensive end and got a handful of big plays offensively to hold off the Flashes.

Julian Strawther added 14 points, including a 3-pointer with 3:19 left that started Gonzaga’s decisive run. Timme’s spinning basket in the lane with 2:29 left gave Gonzaga (6-3) the lead, and he added a key defensive play blocking Sincere Carry’s layup attempt at the other end.

Timme was fouled and split free throws with 1:55 left, but Malachi Smith grabbed the offensive rebound and his three-point play gave the Bulldogs a 71-66 lead. It was Smith’s first basket of the game.

“(Timme) was heroic. He wasn’t really looking for the ball much early and wasn’t demanding it . he was splitting the defense and scoring in a variety of ways like he does,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “To end up with 17 boards is monster and we needed every one of them.”

Nolan Hickman added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs, who held a 43-30 advantage on the boards. It was just the second home game inside the McCarthey Athletic Center for Gonzaga and first since Nov. 7 against North Florida.

Thomas led Kent State (6-3) with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Malique Jacobs added 11 points and Carry, who was averaging 18.5 points per game, was held to 10.

“I think in the second half we moved the ball well, we got some turnovers, got some easy shots and was able to give us a lead playing a great team and great program. . Unfortunately we couldn’t finish it off. Give them a lot of credit for that,” Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff said.

Kent State nearly pulled off a surprising upset on the road for the second time in two weeks but couldn’t withstand Gonzaga’s late surge. Kent State led No. 1 Houston by one-point with less than a minute to go nine days ago in Houston but couldn’t make the plays in the closing seconds to finish off the upset in a 49-44 loss.

“Coach Few has told us all week that this is a great team that could go to the Sweet 16. . We knew what they were capable of and we weren’t taking them lightly and we knew it was going to be a dog fight,” Strawther said.

JERSEY RETIRED

Kelly Olynyk’s No. 13 jersey number was retired in front of a sellout crowd. Olynyk played for Gonzaga from 2009-13 and led the Bulldogs to its first ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament while earning first team AP All-American status as a senior.

“You’re almost speechless,” Olynyk said. “It’s just such an honor, especially with the names that you’re up beside. They’re unbelievable players.”

BIG PICTURE

Kent State: The Golden Flashes lost their third game of the season and their second against a ranked opponent. Kent State has three non-conference games left before beginning Mid-American Conference play at home against Western Michigan.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs bounced back from a one-point loss to No. 12 Baylor last week with the win. All three of Gonzaga’s losses are to teams ranked in the top 12 of the AP Top 25.

UP NEXT:

Kent State: At Cleveland State on Saturday.

Gonzaga: Host in-state rival Washington on Friday.

Preseason No. 1 North Carolina drops out of AP Top 25

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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Houston and Texas remain firmly entrenched atop The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll, while preseason No. 1 North Carolina has dropped out entirely after a fourth straight loss.

The Cougars earned 37 of 62 first-place votes in the poll, extending the program’s first stay at No. 1 since the “Phi Slama Jama” days in the 1980s for another week. Houston (8-0) beat Norfolk State and Saint Mary’s in its first week at the top.

“I don’t dwell on it,” coach Kelvin Sampson said last week about the No. 1 ranking. “We’re not running around here pushing our chest out, thinking we’re something we’re not.”

The Longhorns received 14 first-place votes. No. 3 Virginia got three votes and No. 4 Purdue got the remaining eight.

Connecticut (9-0) climbed to No. 5, the program’s highest ranking since early in the 2011-12 season. Other than the top five, there are three other teams in the AP Top 25 that are undefeated (No. 11 Auburn, No. 13 Maryland and No. 23 Mississippi State).

SWIFT FALL

North Carolina is only the sixth team to go from preseason No. 1 to unranked since at least the 1961-62 season, most recently with Michigan State during the 2019-20 season.

Of that group, the Tar Heels had the swiftest exit from the poll to start the season (four weeks) excet for UCLA in 1965-66. The Bruins fell out of the poll after just three weeks back when only 10 teams were ranked.

Ranked No. 18 last week, the Tar Heels (5-4) l ost their fourth straight game over the weekend at Virginia Tech while playing without banged-up big man Armando Bacot. They appeared on a single ballot this week from the 62-member panel that votes on the AP Top 25.

“I told them also that I’m not panicked, I’m not any of that,” coach Hubert Davis said afterward. “I’m convinced we’re going to be a great basketball team by the end of the season.”

Last year’s Tar Heels were on the bubble to even make the NCAA Tournament well into February in Davis’ debut season. They went on a final-month tear all the way to the NCAA championship game before falling to Kansas.

THE TOP TIER

Kansas climbed to No. 6, followed by three Southeastern Conference teams in Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas. For the Volunteers and Crimson Tide, it marked their first appearances inside the top 10 this year. Arizona rounded out the top 10, falling six spots after a loss at Utah.

RISING

No. 13 Maryland had the biggest jump of the week, vaulting nine spots after wins against Louisville and Illinois last week in the Terrapins’ first year under Kevin Willard. That marks the program’s highest ranking since pushing into the top 10 during the 2019-20 season.

Tennessee was next up with a six-spot climb, while No. 11 Auburn rose four spots.

In all, 13 teams climbed from last week.

SLIDING

Creighton had the week’s biggest fall, tumbling 14 spots to No. 21 after losing at Texas and at home to Nebraska last week.

No. 12 Baylor fell six spots after a loss to Marquette, though the Bears responded by beating Gonzaga on Friday in a rematch of the 2021 NCAA championship game won by Baylor.

The Zags, now No. 18, fell four spots to their lowest ranking since checking in at No. 20 on Christmas Day in 2017.

In all, four teams slid from last week.

STATUS QUO

Beyond the top three, No. 25 Ohio State remained in place after a tough loss at No. 15 Duke last week.

WELCOME

No. 23 Mississippi State and No. 24 TCU were the new additions to the poll, with the Bulldogs (8-0) earning their first AP Top 25 ranking under first-year coach Chris Jans since January 2019.

The Horned Frogs were ranked 14th and 15th, respectively, in the first two polls before falling out for two weeks.

FAREWELL (FOR NOW)

In addition to UNC, Michigan State (No. 20) fell out after losses to Notre Dame and Northwestern.

CONFERENCE WATCH

The SEC led the way with six ranked teams, including No. 16 Kentucky. The Big Ten and Big 12 each had five ranked teams, followed by two each for the Atlantic Coast, Pac-12 and Big East conferences.

The American Athletic, West Coast and Mountain West conferences each had one.

Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer tops women’s AP Top 25 appearances

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer stands atop The Associated Press women’s basketball poll with the most appearances all time, breaking a tie with the late Pat Summitt.

VanDerveer’s Cardinal remained No. 2 behind top-ranked South Carolina, giving her 619 weeks with one of her teams in the AP Top 25: 592 weeks with Stanford and 27 with Ohio State when she was in charge of that program. Summitt’s 618 weeks in the poll all came with Tennessee.

The Hall of Fame coach downplayed the achievement.

“Fortunate to be here for 36 years. We have great players and have been successful,” VanDerveer said. “I don’t pay attention to (records). People bring it up and I’m like `OK, great.”‘

Louisville fell out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2016, a span of 127 weeks. That was the fifth longest active streak. The Cardinals (5-4) started the season ranked seventh and have struggled to find consistency this year, dropping their last two games to Ohio State and Middle Tennessee.

They are the third preseason top 10 team to fall out of the poll, joining Texas (this week) and Tennessee (last week). Before this year, only 10 preseason top 10 teams had fallen out of the rankings at some point during the year since the AP Top 25 became a writers’ poll in 1994-95.

Even more rare has been a preseason top five school dropping out. Only five teams had done that prior to this year and none before January. Tennessee was the last to do it, starting the 2015-16 season at No. 4 before falling out of the rankings Feb. 22.

Now Texas and Tennessee are both out before the New Year.

“Two factors are at play here. One of them is more parity with more good teams,” said Rebecca Lobo, the former UConn star, ESPN analyst and Top 25 voter. “The other factor at play is the transfer portal. I think those three teams all have multiple players who start who weren’t in their program a year ago. It’s a reflection that you can’t just assemble teams and right away expect them to be good. I think all those teams will in the poll by the end of the season.”

Ohio State moved up to No. 3 after, the Buckeyes’ best ranking since Nov. 30, 2009, when they also were third. Indiana and Notre Dame round out the top five.

UConn fell three spots to sixth with Virginia Tech seventh, the best ranking ever for the school. North Carolina and N.C. State were tied in eighth and Iowa State is 10th.

RANKED RAZORBACKS

Arkansas (10-0) vaulted into the poll at No. 21. The Razorbacks have a difficult month ahead with games against No. 18 Creighton and a tournament in San Diego that has Oregon, South Florida and Ohio State.

“I do think we know a lot about our team,” Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said.

He was also happy his team made the poll as every sports team on campus that has played this year has been ranked, including football, men’s basketball, soccer and cross country.

“We didn’t want to be the team that stops that streak,” he said..

FALLING LOUISVILLE

The Cardinals had been ranked ever week since Jan. 11, 2016. That was the same season they started the year at No. 8 before falling out on Nov. 30, the earliest a top 10 team had fallen out of the poll until last week. Things got better for Louisville as the Cardinals finished that regular season 24-6 and went 15-1 in the ACC.

HISTORIC WEEK

With Louisville, Texas and Tennessee all out of the Top 25, it marks only the second time in the poll’s history that none of those three teams were ranked. The only other time was the first-ever poll in 1976.

COMING AND GOING

Oklahoma and Kansas State also returned to the Top 25 this week, coming in at No. 23 and No. 24. Marquette dropped out after losing to Seton Hall.

Northwestern beats No. 20 Michigan State in Big Ten opener

Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Boo Buie scored 20 points and Northwestern beat No. 20 Michigan State 70-63 on Sunday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

Chase Audige added 15 points and Ty Berry had 13 for Northwestern (6-2), which ended a two-game losing streak.

“Needless to say, this was a huge win for us,” coach Chris Collins said. “Coming off our performance in the ACC-Big Ten challenge, where we lost badly on our home floor (to Pittsburgh), I was really pleased with our resolve the past couple days.”

Mady Sossoko and A.J. Hoggard each had 12 points for Michigan State (5-4) and Joey Hauser added 10. The Spartans have lost two in a row, falling to Notre Dame earlier in the week.

Hoggard cut Northwestern’s lead to 64-63 with 46 seconds left. After a timeout, Buie scored on a layup with 23 seconds left.

“We got out-toughed,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

Northwestern took the lead late in the first half on a layup by Buie and never relinquished it, leading by as many as nine points.

“We put (the loss to Pittsburgh) under the rug,” Buie said. “We turned the page, just like we do with any win or loss. The season is so long you can’t get caught up on one single game. Just like tonight. We’re super happy with the win, but after tonight it’s over. You can’t dwell on things.”

The Wildcats went 21 of 24 on free throws, while the Spartans were 9 of 12.

“I was concerned about a knockout punch early,” Collins said. ‘I knew they would be revved up after the Notre Dame loss. They hit us early and got a seven-point lead, and then we settled down.”

UP NEXT

Northwestern: Hosts Prairie View A&M on Dec. 11

Michigan State: At Penn State on Wednesday night.

Miles, No. 7 Notre Dame women beat No. 3 UConn; Fudd hurt

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Olivia Miles had 21 points and eight rebounds for No. 7 Notre Dame, and UConn star Azzi Fudd suffered a knee injury in a collision with a teammate, as the Fighting Irish handed the third-ranked Huskies their first loss of the season, 74-60 on Sunday.

“I think she’ll be all right,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said afterwards of Fudd, who went into the day averaging 24.0 points, but finished scoreless on two shots over 13 minutes.

Fudd exited in the final minute of the first quarter after teammate Aaliyah Edwards fell on her. She returned midway through the second period to play four hobbled minutes, but sat the rest of the way as a precaution, according to Auriemma.

Maddy Westbeld had a season-high 17 points and nine rebounds for Notre Dame (7-1), which bounced back from a 74-72 loss to No. 20 Maryland three days earlier.

“I think Thursday’s loss really fueled us today,” Irish coach Niele Ivey said. “We learned a lot from that game. We have incredible scorers on our team, a lot of balance offensively, but it’s our defense that’s gonna win games, so that was our focus the last 48 hours. (The players) took the challenge and came out and played with heart and defensive intensity. I feel like if we can play that way, we can beat anyone in the country.”

Notre Dame shot 56% from the field while limiting the Huskies to 37%.

“We played very badly (Thursday), but we were still two points away,” Miles said, “so it’s kind of scary what we can do when we play really well.”

Led by Miles, the Irish roared to a 41-24 lead by intermission, outscoring the Huskies 30-11 over the final 11 minutes of the first half.

Miles scored 13 of Notre Dame’s 18 first-quarter points, going 6 of 7 from the field. Westbeld provided her scoring punch after averaging 5.2 points over her previous five outings.

Lou Lopez Senechal led UConn (6-1) with 21 points. Edwards added 14.

“We didn’t win the rebound battle and that hurt us,” said Auriemma, whose club was outboarded 39-26 and outscored in the paint. 46-16. “We just didn’t have enough scoring on the court and enough people playing at a real high level to get enough buckets when we needed them.”

The Huskies got as close at 49-44 at the 3:44 mark of the third quarter, but the Irish stretched their lead back to as high as 70-53 at the midway mark of the fourth period.

Notre Dame ended a seven-game head-to-head losing streak against UConn in regular-season play, prevailing for the first time since a triple-overtime decision in March 2013.

BIG PICTURE

UConn: The Huskies faced a top-10 opponent for the fourth time this season, but this one was their first true road game. If Fudd’s injury doesn’t turn out to be serious, UConn ought to still have a chance to do what it’s done for decades: craft a resume that will make them a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Notre Dame: The Irish, coming back from that loss at the buzzer to Maryland, showed that Thursday’s outcome may just be a blip on their promising season. Notre Dame matched last season’s win over No. 3 North Carolina State for the highest-ranked team it has beaten in its third year under Ivey.

UP NEXT

UConn: The Huskies host Princeton on Thursday before visiting Maryland next Sunday.

Notre Dame: The Irish have a couple apparent mismatches coming up as they visit Lafayette (2-7) on Thursday and host Merrimack (1-6) on Saturday.