The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are heading home early this year from the NCAA Tournament as their dreams of being national champions came to an end Saturday afternoon thanks to an outstanding all around performance by the West Virginia Mountaineers.
“They’re really good, they’re really good, they got the look, they could play for a while” said Head Coach Mike Brey concluding the game.
Notre Dame was close to being a first round tournament exit on Thursday, after a sluggish performance against Princeton, only beating the Tigers by two points.
But if the past has told us anything, it was that first round matches have always been tough for the Irish. Even when the Irish narrowly lost to the Kentucky Wildcats in the Elite Eight back in 2015, they were close to going home early on the first day.
After Thursday’s win and the then thought “tournament jitters” were gone, the Irish were expected to turn it up a notch with a more formidable opponent knocking at their door.
West Virginia proposed a tough matchup with their defensive intensity and their ability to alter offensive rhythm through their tight full court press.
Mike Brey Stated:
“Our start really hurt us, you know we were in a 10-0 hole and you’re kinda digging out against them the whole day, it was hard to get over it. Their style of play is really hard to deal with, I think you know it wore on us at times”.
Every year, teams see their dreams of making the NCAA Tournament come true, while others accept bids into other post-season tournaments.
Last season, 68 teams made the NCAA Tournament, 32 made the NIT, 16 made the College Basketball Invitational, 32 made the CollegeInsider.Com Tournament, and 8 teams took part in the inaugural Vegas 16 tournament. If the math is correct, that leaves 195 teams without a spot in post-season play.
Some teams aren’t even eligible for post-season play due to off-court issues, whether it’s due to low APR scorers or self-imposed bans.
That’s where we come in. We don’t discriminate, and even teams who aren’t eligible in the real world are welcome in our eyes. Living up to the Canadian stereotype of always being nice, we have included all 351 teams into one hypothetical post-season tournament.
For the first time in program history, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 4-0 in conference play after ending the Miami Hurricanes 21 home game win streak, beating them 67-62.
This was the 21st meeting between the Irish and the Hurricanes with the Irish now leading the all time series 11-10. Notre Dame had lost both meetings with the Hurricanes last year, losing by nine the first game and 18 points the second.
Miami has had an okay start to the season as they are now 11-4, losing to Syracuse, Iowa State, Florida and now Notre Dame with their most notable wins coming from Stanford and North Carolina State.
Regardless of their win-loss record, Miami possessed a dangerous and athletic roster capable of ending Notre Dame’s streak.
“They’re really physical drivers” said head coach Mike Brey, “they’re athletic and long”.
After three straight home wins against Pittsburgh, Louisville and Clemson, Notre Dame possessed lots of momentum entering this game and looked to find their offensive spark early.
After taking down the Pittsburgh Panthers on New Years Eve in over time thanks to a clutch last second three pointer by senior captain Steve Vasturia, the #22/23Notre Dame Fighting Irish opened ACC play 1-0 to start the New Year, but needed to turn their attention immediately to the #9 Louisville Cardinals.
Despite the Irish trailing in the all time series against the Cardinals, 14-20, Notre Dame has won the last five meetings against Rick Pintino’s squad with their last meeting being February 13th, 2016 in which the Irish won 71-66 at home.
The series between the Irish and the cardinals have been notorious for going into over time, with nine of the series’ 34 games going into over time. The most notable over time game between these two rivals was back in February of 2013, where the Irish and the Cardinals duked it out in five overtimes, before Notre Dame finally secured the win 104-101.
Louisville has been off to a hot start to the 2016-2017 season with their most notable wins coming from the then #15 Purdue Boilermakers (now ranked #20), #6 Kentucky Wildcats and #16 IndianaHoosiers, while only losing to the now #2 team in the country Baylor Bears by three and the #12 Virginia Cavaliers.
Another tough matchup for Irish head coach Mike Brey and his squad that will not get any easier. Securing a win against the Cardinals, followed by another home win against the Clemson Tigers on Saturday before heading to Miami could give the Fighting Irish the momentum needed to tackle their three game road trip against prominent ACC opponents.
Aside from the return of college basketball, holiday tournaments are the best part of non-conference play.
Battles between future NCAA Tournament teams give a taste of postseason basketball. Mid-majors are presented with opportunities to score a resume win and receive national attention. And, on the third day, one team is crowned champion, a feat they hope to accomplish twice more before the season’s conclusion. Continue reading Wesner’s 4-Point Play: Tire Pros Invitational→
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