Don’t tell Notre Dame there’s nothing to play for this weekend as the regular season comes to a close.
The Fighting Irish have plenty to play for. Not only would a win at No. 8 Louisville potentially help their NCAA Tournament seeding, but a victory over the Cardinals in the Bluegrass State would possibly give Mike Brey’s squad a double bye in next week’s Big East Tournament.
The difference between a fifth and fourth seed is pretty big. The No. 5 seed plays the 13-12 winner on Wednesday afternoon, while the 4 seed doesn’t open play until Thursday (against the winner of that 5 vs. 13/12 game).
To get the 4 seed, 23-7 Notre Dame will not only need to beat Louisville in the KFC Yum! Center, but need Georgetown to knock off Syracuse, too. If that scenario unfolds, the Fighting Irish would be on the No. 4 line even if Pitt wins at DePaul as expected. Why? Because Notre Dame wins the tiebreaker over the Panthers thanks to its win over Pitt earlier this season in the Steel City.
If, however, the Cuse gets by the Hoyas, Jim Boeheim’s club would be the fourth seed at Madison Square Garden next week.
If Notre Dame loses to Louisville and say Syracuse and Pitt both win, the Irish will fall to the No. 6 seed. That would mean Brey’s team would open play against the 14-11 winner Wednesday night. Depending on what unfolds this weekend, that could mean a date with either Cincinnati or St. John’s. You know Brey doesn’t want to face Steve Lavin’s team in NYC. Remember in January the Irish lost to the Red Storm in the Garden.
The one good thing about being on the 6 line for Notre Dame would be it wouldn’t have to face Syracuse until the championship game. I’m not saying the Irish are going to get that far because they won’t, but beating what will be a very motivated Orange team, making its last Big East Tournament appearance in the Garden, might be next to impossible.
Behind closed doors Brey would tell you the No. 6 seed would be a more favorable draw for his club even though it would mean playing a day early.
Regardless of the seed the Fighting Irish get for what will be the last relevant Big East Tournament, they’ll have a tough time making it past Thursday simply because they don’t have the horses and/or talent to make a deep run in the Big Apple.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.