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Irish set to play Pitt

The Notre Dame men's basketball team will take on another Big East foe coming off a big win tonight, and the Irish will again be playing without forward Luke Harangody.

Notre Dame (17-10, 6-8) tips off against No. 12 Pittsburgh within the hour at Purcell Pavilion and three days after the Panthers (21-6, 10-4) took out then-No. 3 Villanova 70-65 Sunday.

"We've run into some hot teams," said Irish coach Mike Brey, whose squad lost its last game 91-89 in double overtime at Louisville on Feb. 17. "(Pittsburgh is) coming into our place really hot.

"Just another example of how good this league is. … That's the one thing about playing in this league; you got a chance for monumental wins."

Pittsburgh has won its last four games, while Notre Dame has lost three in a row with Harangody sidelined with a bone bruise on his right knee.

Brey said his biggest concerns tonight against the Panthers are defensive rebounding and slowing down Pittsburgh's guards. Ashton Gibbs leads Pittsburgh offense averaging 16.4 points, and fellow guards Jermaine Dixon and Brad Wanamaker average 10.3 and 12.3 points, respectively.

"That's still a challenge for us – daily, weekly – in this league," Brey said of guarding perimeter players. "We got to change some difference. We mix in man and zone. I think we have to do both."

Defensive rebounding will also continue to be a challenge for the Irish with Harangody, who was averaging 10 rebounds, still out.

"They had 20 offensive rebounds against Villanova," Brey said of Pitt. "That's my biggest concern, when we play the athletes of this league, can we keep them off the backboard?"

Notre Dame has been competitive without Harangody, but the Irish haven't won.

And that will likely not change tonight.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 88, Notre Dame 79

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