When the Notre Dame Fighting Irish enter the Prudential Center on Thursday, they will be looking to take advantage of the Hall’s recent struggles and move up in the Big East, while the Pirates will look to improve on their shooting and turn around a once promising season.The Pirates are welcoming their return back to Prudential Center as they have yet to win a conference game on the road this season.Notre Dame is currently tied with Marquette for seventh place in the Big East with a 6-5 conference record, 17-7 overall.Seton Hall has fallen to 13th place with a 3-7 conference record, 12-9 overall.The Fighting Irish are led by senior forward Harangody, who is averaging 24.5 points per game, which ranks third in the nation. He also notches 10.1 rebounds per game, ranking him second in the Big East behind Seton Hall sophomore Herb Pope’s 10.9 per game. The Pirates were also outrebounded 50-31 in the 10-point loss to No. 2 Villanova on February 2nd, despite shooting 43 percent from the field.The Fighting Irish are coming off victories over Cincinnati and USF but lost five of their last eight games and have a 1-4 record on the road this season against Big East teams.In the last 10 meetings the Pirates are 1-9 against Notre Dame with their last win coming at home in 2003, 78-72.Notre Dame is a strong shooting team, ranking third in the Big East with a 47.5 team field goal percentage, second in three-point shooting with a 40.1percent mark, and sixth in scoring with 79.4 points per game.Aside from Harangody, who is making a strong case for the Big East Player of the Year award, junior forward Tim Abromaitis and senior guard Ben Hansbrough also are averaging double figures for the Fighting Irish.Abromaitis averages 16.5 points per game, with a .523 field goal percentage and a .486 percentage from behind the arc.Hansbrough is averaging 11.8 points per game, along with five assists per game and 3.7 rebounds per game.On Sunday, the DePaul Blue Demons will visit Newark attempting to improve on their 1-10 conference record and climb out of last place in the Big East.DePaul has an overall record of 8-15 and despite dropping their last five matchups, they have been improving. The Blue Demons nearly upset the No. 4 Syracuse Orange on Jan. 30, but fell by two, 59-57.DePaul is without their head coach Jerry Wainwright, who was fired on Jan. 11.This is the second year in a row where the Blue Demons are at the bottom of the conference. Last season, they did not win their first conference game until the Big East Tournament when they beat Cincinnati, 67-57. The Blue Demon’s are led by senior guard Will Walker’s 16.5 points per game.Junior Mac Koshwal also contributes 13.7 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game.The Pirates are 5-2 all-time against DePaul.Tipoff time is noon at the Prudential Center on Feb. 14th.Matthew Bryant can be reached at email@example.com.
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