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Irish men's hoops set for second top-10 matchup in two weeks

Notre Dame is rising in the national spotlight on the hardwood.

Following a big win over No. 6 Wichita State in the Maui Invitational championship game, the Irish jumped into the top-five of the latest AP Poll. This week, though, brings an even bigger test as they hit the road once again to face Michigan State on Thursday.

With fifth-ranked, undefeated Notre Dame meeting the third-ranked Spartans, it will be the first top-five matchup in nearly four decades for the Irish and the second game against a top-10 opponent in as many weeks.

“I think it’s great to be challenged, there’s no question about it," said head coach Mike Brey. "Our old guys, veteran group, they want to play big games and it doesn’t get much bigger than this against a great opponent."

The game will be the finale of this year's Big Ten-ACC Challenge, and also pits two regional rivals together. Though the schools meet regularly on the football field, the last time they played in men's hoops was 2014, and it had been decades before that.

With all those factors in play, Brey said it's important to refocus after spending the past week traveling to and from Hawaii.

“I have a feeling we’ll be really focused," he said. "This is an older group. They expect a lot of themselves. They’ve been in big games and they’ve delivered in big games before, so I’m excited about taking them North on Thursday.”

The game is set to tip at 7 p.m. on Thursday in East Lansing, Michigan.

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