Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh: Key Players to Watch in Big Monday Battle

Nick LantzCorrespondent IIFebruary 18, 2013

ND will need a strong outing from Jerian Grant.
ND will need a strong outing from Jerian Grant.Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Pittsburgh Panthers square off for the last time in the Big East Monday night. Each team will rely on strong performances from their key players to get a big conference win.

Both teams come into Monday's battle ranked in the AP Top 25. No. 20 Pittsburgh and No. 25 Notre Dame are both looking to bounce back from tough road losses.

Junior Jerian Grant has been an important factor in Notre Dame's success. For the Irish to pick up a huge win on the road, Grant will need to come ready to play.

The Irish are coming off a very disappointing 71-54 loss at Providence, where they could not hit any outside shots.

In the loss to the Friars, Grant struggled as he made just two of his nine shots, finishing with six points. He missed all four of his three-point attempts.

After picking up big wins over the Syracuse Orange and Cincinnati Bearcats, the Panthers lost to the Marquette Golden Eagles 79-69 for the second time this season.

For Pittsburgh, fifth-year senior Tray Woodall will need to lead the Panthers to a home win at the Petersen Events Center.

Woodall leads Pitt in points (10.9 per game) and assists (5.5 per game). In the loss to the Golden Eagles, Woodall dished out eight assists, but also only made two of his seven three-point shots.

Both squads have very similar resumes as March draws near. Each team is 20-6 overall and tied for fifth in the Big East with an 8-5 conference record.


Notre Dame has beaten the Panthers in each of the last four meetings. The Irish come into Pittsburgh after playing in three overtime contests in their previous five games.

Earlier this month, the Irish pulled off a huge 104-101 victory over the Louisville Cardinals in five overtimes.

Grant had a team-high 19 points in the thrilling win over the Cardinals.

In Pittsburgh's marquee 65-55 win over the Syracuse Orange, Woodall was the lone Panther in double figures, finishing with 13 points.

Woodall is No. 3 in the Big East with a 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. If he can continue his passing success, while limiting turnovers, Pittsburgh has a good opportunity to get the win.

Pittsburgh and Notre Dame are among the nation's leaders in team assists. The Irish are No. 3 in the country (just under 18 per game) in assists, while the Panthers dish out 17.2 per game, No. 6 in the nation.

Jerian Grant and Tray Woodall will be the key to victory for Notre Dame and Pittsburgh.