Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 10/6/11

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

In losing Luke Harangody, expectations were lower for Notre Dame last season.  However, their veteran line-up rose to the challenge, finishing with the second best record in the Big East and earning a number two seed in the NCAA Tournament.  With three starters gone from a year ago, the Fighting Irish are again flying under the radar heading into the 2011-2012 season.

NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
Last Season: 2nd, 14-4 in Big East, 27-7 overall
Predicted Big East Finish: 8th

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Jack Cooley (Jr)/Mike Broghammer (Jr)
F: Tim Abromaitis (Sr)/Thomas Knight (Jr)
G/F: Scott Martin (Sr)/Alex Dragicevich (So)/Pat Connaughton (Fr)
SG: Joey Brooks (Jr)/Jerian Grant (So)
PG: Eric Atkins (So)

Gone: G-Ben Hansbrough, F/C-Tyrone Nash, F-Carleton Scott

2011-2012 Outlook:
The senior duo of Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin will be the go-to players for the Irish this season.  Abromaitis is a nightmare match-up due to his ability to stroke it from deep and use his size to back down defenders in the post.  Martin is in the same mold but just doesn’t possess the talent that Abromaitis does.  The lefty struggled from distance last season but if he can become a better shooter, should take over the second banana role.

With Ben Hansbrough graduating, Eric Atkins becomes the full-time point guard.  He was the team’s sixth man a year ago as a freshman and showed the potential to be a solid scorer and distributor.  As the only true point guard on the roster, he will probably play heavy minutes.

Harangody look-alike Jack Cooley takes over in the middle.  He plays extremely hard, using his physicality and will to be a factor on the glass.  Juniors Mike Broghammer and Thomas Knight played sparingly a year ago but must provide depth off the bench.

Notre Dame suffered a blow to their frontcourt depth this summer when top-100 recruit Eric Katenda suffered a freak injury that has left him blind in one eye.  There is a possibility that he could suit up for the Irish at some point but it is unlikely that will happen this season.

Mike Brey also picked up an addition that will help them for the future when center Garrick Sherman transferred in from Michigan State.  He will sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules but is allowed to practice with the team.

Joey Brooks figures to be the fifth starter this season.  He is not much of a scorer but is a solid wing defender and will likely run the point when Atkins needs a breather.  The depth on the wing is rather inexperienced.  Alex Dragicevich only appeared in fourteen games last season while Jerian Grant redshirted.  Grant is a gifted athlete who could work his way into the rotation and possibly steal minutes from Brooks.  Freshman Pat Connaughton could be an immediate contributor due to his sharpshooting ability.

Brey has shown an ability to make the most of the talent he is coaching.  If the role players can step up to the challenge, Notre Dame may once again be a sleeper in the Big East.

Player to Watch: Tim Abromaitis
I think Abro could potentially be a 20-point per night scorer and Big East Player of the Year candidate if he can once again shoot higher than 40% from three.  He should get more scoring opportunities due to the losses of Hansbrough, Nash, and Scott.

Key Non-Conferences Games:
11/14 vs. Detroit
11/21 vs. Missouri (CBE Classic)
11/22 vs. Cal/Georgia (CBE Classic)
11/30 at Gonzaga
12/4 vs. Maryland (in Washington, D.C.)
12/17 vs. Indiana (in Indianapolis)

OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#35 Harvard Crimson
#36 Illinois Fighting Illini
#37 Oregon Ducks
#38 Wichita State Shockers
#39 Cal Golden Bears
#40 Belmont Bruins
#41 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#42 Saint Mary’s Gaels
#43 Purdue Boilermakers
#44 BYU Cougars
#45 Kansas State Wildcats
#46 West Virginia Mountaineers
#47 Virginia Cavaliers
#48 George Mason Patriots
#49 Old Dominion Monarchs
#50 VCU Rams
#51 Kent State Golden Flashes
#52 Arkansas Razorbacks
#53 St. John’s Red Storm
#54 Northwestern Wildcats
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs
#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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