Notre Dame – Louisville Dancing in NYC Again

Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard/forward Pat Connaughton (24) celebrates after scoring a three-pointer against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the second half of a quarterfinal game during the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. Notre Dame won 73-65. (Photo: Debby Wong / USA TODAY Sports)

After Notre Dame’s 73-64 victory over #12 Marquette in Madison Square Garden last night, the Irish have set up another Big East Championship semi-final match up with the Louisville Cardinals – the third, and final, year in a row the two future ACC members will meet in the Big East semis.

Led by sophomore guard Pat Connaughton who paced the Irish again last night with 18 points – all of which came on three pointers – Notre Dame advanced to the semi finals for the fourth year in a row.  Notre Dame’s three point specialist now has hit 12 of 18 three pointers in Notre Dame’s two games in the Big East Tourney.

Notre Dame ended up winning by a comfortable margin, but early on this game was anything but comfortable for the Irish.  Marquette stormed out of the gates while the Irish stumbled and trailed 17-4 early before getting on track.  The start was very similar to last month’s victory over Pitt when the Irish got off to a dreadful start before regrouping and coasting to a victory over a higher ranked opponent.

Along with Connaughton’s 18 points, two other Golden Domers scored in double figures. After a slow start, Jerian Grant chipped in 17 points and reserve center Garrick Sherman added 16 off the bench.  Sherman also chipped in a team high 6 rebounds in 24 minutes of action.

Notre Dame has advanced to the Big East semi-finals once again despite back to back subpar performances from their best player – Jack Cooley.  Notre Dame’s player of the year candidate has just 8 combined points in the two games the Irish have played and has yet to attempt a free throw in Notre Dame’s final trip to the Garden for the Big East Tournament.

Last night’s win sets up a great matchup tonight with Louisville that is anything but short on storylines.  The two schools have played twice this year already, splitting both contests including the 5 overtime thriller the two played in South Bend back in February.  This will also be the third year in a row the two have squared off in the Big East semis.  Louisville has won the prior two meetings in the Bigh East Tourney – a 64-50 victory last year and a 83-77 overtime win two years ago.

Tip off tonight is set for 9:00 PM and the game will be broadcast on ESPN. If you tune in, don’t adjust your television when you see the lime green uniforms the Irish will be wearing again tonight.  Notre Dame has worn new jerseys from Adidas  the last two nights that have generated quite a bit of buzz – mostly negative – due to the bright colors.

Should the Irish be able to get passed Louisville tonight, they would face the winner of the Georgetown-Syracuse game set to tip off before the Irish and Cardinals get underway.  Notre Dame has never advanced to the Big East Tournament Championship game since joining the league and will have one final chance to do so tonight since they will be leaving the conference for the ACC starting next year.

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