It hasn’t been the smoothest road to the NCAA Tournament for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but heading into the final weekend of the college basketball regular season, they can breathe easy knowing that their invitation to The Big Dance won’t be getting lost in the mail on selection Sunday. The Irish have put together a season that could potentially deliver them a double-bye in The Big East Tournament and that will undoubtedly give them a single-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Irish hit a rough patch in the middle of January when they lost three of four games, dropping their conference record to 3-3, but Notre Dame responded to that losing skid with wins in five of their next six games, including an epic five-overtime thriller against the Louisville Cardinals, a game the Irish had no business winning for the first 38 minutes, only to be saved in the final minute by Jerian Grant. Notre Dame has a rematch with that same Louisville team on Saturday, but luckily for them it will have little or no impact on their standing with the tournament committee. Any possibility that the Irish might find themselves on the bubble heading down the stretch following an unfortunate loss to the Providence Friars on February 16 were erased when Notre Dame quickly rebounded from that loss with a road win over the Pittsburgh Panthers and a home win over the Cincinnati Bearcats, two teams that will also be dancing this March.
Although the Irish don’t need to win any more games to get into the tournament, they would be wise to finish the season strong. With a second win over Louisville on Saturday and a strong showing at the Big East tournament next week, at least a win or two, Notre Dame could improve its seed and feel real good about its chances in the tournament. Regardless, it’s been a successful season for Mike Brey and the Irish, and they should feel proud about the season they’ve had, as well as grateful that they won’t be sitting on the bubble on selection Sunday.