Niagara Gazette — Niagara’s strength of schedule currently ranks 109th nationally, according to realtimerpi.com, and is sure to rise after tonight’s game.
“The idea is to play these teams and get better and better for league play,” Mihalich said. “I’m hoping that in February I can say the November/December schedule prepared us to be successful.”
The Irish are led by 6-9 center Jack Cooley, a preseason all-Big East pick who is averaging 14.5 points and 11 rebounds and is the nation’s best offensive rebounder, according to kenpom.com.
Cooley will surely challenge the undersized Purple Eagles, though Niagara’s interior defense has been fortified since senior transfer Devon White joined the lineup three games ago. In last week’s home wins over Hartford and Vermont, the Purple Eagles allowed an average of 58.5 points.
“Those last two wins gave us a lot more confidence defensively,” Mihalich said.
Mihalich joked that when playing a team like Notre Dame, it’s McDonald’s All-Americans versus “guys who eat at McDonald’s.” But there is at least one position where the Purple Eagles are on par with the Irish. Sophomore point guard Juan’ya Green was one of 80 players nominated Thursday for the Bob Cousy Award, along with Notre Dame’s Eric Atkins.
The Niagara women’s team will play at UB at 2 today. At 5-4, the Purple Eagles are over .500 in non-conference play for the first time since 2005. UB is 1-9 and 0-4 at home.