As Notre Dame makes its final preparations for their first Sweet 16 appearance in 12 years, the Irish aren’t getting a whole lot of love from most publications who are reranking the tournament field after the first weekend of the Tournament despite the Irish sporting a 7-1 record against the 15 remaining teams.
Notre Dame, the winner’s of the ACC Tournament, may not have been dominant in their first two games, but after their run through the ACC that included back to back wins over Duke and North Carolina – two teams also in the Sweet 16 – a little let down isn’t out of the ordinary.
USA Today, however, has Notre Dame ranked #12 out of 16 of the remaining teams.
12. Notre Dame: The Irish are a potent offensive team, but it was a defensive play — Pat Connaughton’s block to force overtime — that helped Notre Dame edge a pesky Butler team to get here. Notre Dame is playing with confidence and has momentum from winning the ACC tournament title. Coach Mike Brey has five players who can erupt offensively, starting with unselfish guard Jerian Grant (16.8 ppg, 6.6 apg).
Sporting News has the Irish just a spot higher at #11.
11. Notre Dame: The Irish are demonstrably better than at least five teams ranked ahead of them. But none of those teams has to play Kentucky to get out of its region.
NBC’s College Basketball Talk has Notre Dame #10
10. Notre Dame (No. 3 Midwest): Jerian Grant and Demetrius Jackson, when surrounded by the shooters that the Irish have in their lineup, combine to be the most dangerous back court left in the tournament. But their size worries me. Can Zach Auguste and Pat Connaughton hold up against the front lines from Kentucky, Wisconsin and Arizona?
Granted Notre Dame has a tough road ahead of it to get out of next weekend still alive, but their wins over Duke (2x), North Carolina (2x), NC State, Louisville, and Michigan State this season have shown that Notre Dame can play with – and beat – the best competition in the country.
Vegas doesn’t think much of Notre Dame’s chances either placing the Irish as a 35-1 favorite to win it all. Their opponent on Thursday, Wichita State, meanwhile is a 30-1 favorite showing Vegas thinks the Shockers have a better chance to navigate the potential minefield of teams ahead of the winner of Thursday’s contest.
Notre Dame’s narrow victories over 14th seeded Northeastern and 6th seeded Butler haven’t done much to gain the Irish respect even after their impressive run through the ACC Tournament two weekends ago, but the Irish are still dancing and with their offensive firepower, they can hang with anyone in the country when their shots are falling. We have yet to see the kind of offensive explosion the Irish are capable of in the Tournament, but we’ll have to see one in order for the Irish to prove all of these rankings have them underrated.