Notre Dame Earns 6th Seed in 2007 NCAA Tournament, Date with Winthrop

( – Selection Sunday came and went and the Big East received a few surprises from the selection committee. The biggest surprise came from the omission of Syracuse from the field of 65, and to a lesser extent, Notre Dame and Louisville gaining 6th seeds also qualify as disappointing surprises.

Notre Dame took eventual Big East Champion and now 2nd seeded Georgetown to the buzzer Friday night in the semifinals before the Hoyas ripped apart the now 3rd seeded Panthers from Pitt in the finals, but could only garner a 6th seed for themselves.

Many had projected the Irish as at least a 5th seed, and potentially a 4th seed prior to selection Sunday, but instead, Notre Dame, like conference-mate Lousiville, found themselves as a 6th seed despite both schools being ranked 16th and 17th in the latest ESPN Poll.

Notre Dame did not get any help from the selection committee in their opponent either as the Irish will be facing hands down the toughest 11 seed in the #21 ranked Eagles from Winthrop. That’s right, the 21st ranked team in the country is only an 11 seed.

Winthrop, owners of an 18 game winning streak, is already being called this year’s George Mason by most media hacks and have more buzz surrounding them than possibly any other team in this years tourney. Getting an 11th seed after cracking the top 25 should also give the Eagles a chip on their shoulders heading into the tournament.

And oh yeah, the Irish will have to travel to Spokane, Washington for Friday’s first round matchup. Mike Brey must have forgotten to mail someone on the selection committee a Christmas card this year, because they obviously did absolutely nothing to help the Irish.

Still, just making into the tournament this year was enough to make Brey and his team smile on Sunday after not going to the Big Dance the last three seasons.

Winthrop will be looking for their first ever win in the NCAA Tournament when they take on the Irish Friday and will be hungrier than ever after losing to Tennessee by only two points in last year’s tournament. The Eagles are 0-6 overall in the NCAA Tournament.

Notre Dame and Winthrop shared just one common opponent this year – Maryland. The Irish took care of the Terrapins 81-74 while Winthrop fell to Maryland 71-60 on the road.

Maryland was one of 4 ranked opponents Winthrop played this season along with Texas A&M, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. The Eagles lost all four games, but three of the four were very close contests – Winthrop lost by 7 to North Carolina (a 1 seed), by 3 to Wisconsin (a 2 seed), and by 11 to Maryland (a 4 seed). Texas A&M meanwhile, did hand Winthrop a rather lopsided 20 point loss.

Despite their 0-4 record against ranked opponents, Winthrop does come into the tournament with wins over tournament bound Old Dominion.

Friday’s tip off times have not been announced yet. We’ll have more about Notre Dame’s tournament chances throughout the week.

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