Notre Dame’s late season surge and brief run in the Big East Tournament this past weekend paid off for the Irish. Considered to not even be on the bubble as recently as a few weeks ago, the Irish march into the tournament as a #6 seed in the South bracket with a first round matchup with 11th seeded Old Dominion – the Colonials Athletic Association champion.
Seemingly left for dead after a three game losing streak just under a month ago, the Irish are headed back to the NCAA Tournament after a one year hiatus. Winners of six of their last seven games, Notre Dame was given a 6th seed after reaching the semifinals of the Big East Tournament and finishing the season with a 23-11 record. The only blemish on the record for the Irish during the stretch was a three point loss Friday night to eventual Big East Tournament champion West Virginia.
This is the third time that Notre Dame has been a 6 seed in the tourney under head coach Mike Brey and the sixth time they have made it overall. The only time the Irish have been a higher seed under Brey came in 2008 when Notre Dame earned a 5th seed and the Irish were most recently a 6 seed in 2007. Neither of the previous two times the Irish were 6 seeds did they advance to the Sweet 16.
Notre Dame hasn’t entered the tourney this hot under Brey either though. Of the six wins Notre Dame strung together over the last two weeks of the season, three were against teams ranked in the top 20 – Pitt (twice) and Georgetown. The only loss Notre Dame has since February 17 came to West Virginia – the second seed in the East bracket.
Over the last month, the Irish have changed their approach and employed a slowed down offensive style that allowed Notre Dame to rattled off wins even when Luke Harangody went down with an injury. Since Harangody has returned, he’s been coming off the bench with Tyrone Nash and Carelton Scott playing int he front court.
The Irish will take the floor on Thursday at 12:25 ET against ODU. The Monarchs got into the tournament by winning the CAA Tournament over William & Mary. They blocked the Trbie from advancing to the tournament for the first time in school history with their tournament win last week. They finished their season 26-8 and back in December, gave Georgetown all they could handle in a 61-57 upset at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.