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Notre Dame’s Brey: When healthy ‘we’re a top 20 team’, but will come-from-behind win be enough for at-large bid?


NEW YORK — Mike Brey knows how good his team is.

He also knows that his Notre Dame roster led by seniors like Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell don’t, at this point in their careers, need to be micro-managed. That’s why, with his team trailing a must-win game by 13 points at the half and 21 points early in the second, he gave the floor to them.

“They do the talking in the huddles,” Brey said. “I didn’t say much at halftime. ‘Y’all figure it out.'”

And figure it out they did.

The tenth-seeded Fighting Irish held No. 7 seed Virginia Tech to 1-for-16 shooting for a ten-minute stretch at the end of the second half, going on a 40-12 run that turned that 21-point deficit into a seven-point lead as the Irish landed a 71-65 win that gave them a shot to beat Duke on Thursday night and convince the selection committee that they deserve a bid to the NCAA tournament.

That’s where we are right now with this Notre Dame team.

When they are healthy, there isn’t anyone in the country that doesn’t think this group is good enough to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. But being good enough and being deserving of a spot in the big dance are two totally different things.

As it stands, after two ACC tournament wins, Notre Dame is 20-13 on the season and 8-10 in league play. They have two Quadrant 1 wins, a 7-10 mark against the top two Quadrants and three losses to Quadrant 3 teams. Their best win — Wichita State in the Maui Invitational — doesn’t outweigh the fact that they lost to Ball State at home, or to Indiana, or at Georgia Tech.

That is not a résumé worthy of an at-large bid this year, but simply looking at their schedule buries the lede: The Irish played without their All-American power forward for two months and without their All-ACC point guard for the better part of three weeks. Their record without Colson was 6-9. Their record without Colson and Farrell was 1-4. They didn’t win a game for a full month, but four of those seven losses came without their two best players on the floor; all seven of them were without Colson.

“I’ve never been a big guy to campaign,” Brey said. “I don’t want to hear about best 68. When I have my guys back we’re a top 20 team, and I think the committee knows that.”

He’s got a point.

Even with all the time that duo missed, Notre Dame is still a top 30 team according to KenPom. They’re 14-4 at full strength, and that includes their win over Wichita State.

The problem is that two of Notre Dame’s three Quadrant 3 losses — Ball State and Indiana — came with Colson and Farrell healthy, at 100 percent and playing poorly enough to fall to a pair of in-state rivals.

It’s a tough argument to make — ignore the bad parts of our résumé because we were without our two best players even though the worst parts of our résumé came with both of them — which is what makes Thursday night so important. The Irish will be facing off with No. 2 seed Duke. That would be a great win, particularly when it would come on a neutral court in a city that might as well be Duke’s second home.

That’s the kind of win that the Irish would need to be able to convince the committee that they are, in fact, deserving of a bid, and not just because their roster looks like it should be on paper.

And when the score was 47-26 with 14 minutes left, I’m not sure anyone actually thought we’d be at a point where that was a possibility on Thursday night.

“All the stuff they’ve been through,” Brey said, “they’re just tough dudes.”

“I don’t know that I’ve ever been prouder of a group — and in a game that really mattered.”

Police: Thief steals electronics from UNC basketball program

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Police say someone stole thousands of dollars in electronics from the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team locker room and office while they were away for the ACC tournament.

UNC-Chapel Hill campus police said on Twitter that the break-in happened at the Dean Smith Center on March 9, and they released images of a man they believe may have been involved.

A police report says the thief managed to get into the team locker room and basketball office without forced entry, according to The Herald-Sun.

The report says the thief stole a PlayStation 4, Xbox One and clothing worth $2,900 that belonged to the athletic department. Police say the thief also stole a laptop worth $1,200 and a financial document worth about $3,000 belonging to one of the players.

No upsets over here: No. 1 seed UConn women set scoring records in first round game

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The No. 1 overall seed on the men’s side of the NCAA tournament made history on Friday night.

They because the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the first round of the tournament, as Virginia lost to UMBC, if you were still unaware.

Over on the women’s side, the bracket is nowhere near as broken, because UConn’s women made history, too. They set NCAA tournament records for … well, almost everything it seems like.

The Huskies were up 55-19 at the end of the first quarter of their first round game against St. Francis (PA). Those 55 points are an NCAA tournament record. They held a 94-31 lead at the half, another NCAA tournament record, and held on to win 140-52.

The 140 points that Geno Auriemma’s team scored was an NCAA tournament record. The 88 points that they won by was one point short of an NCAA tournament record 89 points that was set by Baylor in a win over Texas Southern last season.

Oh, and the Huskies set the record for more assists in an NCAA tournament game — 38 — for good measure.

All in all, I think it’s safe to say that the fans in Storrs had a better weekend than the fans in Charlottesville. Hopefully, that will allow them to forget the fact that the men’s basketball program has become a laughing stock.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Maryland Governor calls UMBC upset, so does NBC Sports’ writer son

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Never before in the history of the NCAA tournament as a No. 16 seed upset a No. 1 seed.

That was until Friday night, when UMBC sent the No. 1 overall seed Virginia packing.

And if you thought no one had picked that upset, you were wrong.

Let’s start with the Maryland Governor, who was clearly a homer in picking UMBC to not only beat Virginia, but to win a national title:

Never say never, but … that’s never going to happen bud.

But how about this: My son, who is two years old and based his picks on his hard and fast rule of “all the doggies”, called this upset!

He also called Penn over Kansas, Fullerton over Purdue and Butler winning a national title, but whatever.

That bracket is actually pretty good!

VIDEO: Virginia’s Ty Jerome does not appreciate dumb question after UMBC loss

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You have to give Virginia some credit.

After losing to No. 16 seed UMBC in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the players on that roster faced the music. They went up to the dais and answered question from reporters on national television.

There is no way they enjoyed that.

And you can tell because Ty Jerome had absolutely no interest in answering dumb questions from reporters:

He was not amused.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Saturday’s betting lines, point spreads, over-unders

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Here is the full TV schedule, with spreads, over-unders and betting lines, for every game for the first four days of the NCAA tournament.

(Lines are updated for Saturday morning.)

Pittsburgh: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner and Dana Jacobson

  • 12:10 p.m.: No. 1 Villanova (-11.5) vs. No. 9 Alabama, CBS (149.5)
  • 2:40 p.m.: No. 2 Duke (-9.5) vs. No. 7 Rhode Island, CBS (149)

Boise: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber and Lisa Byington

  • 5:15 p.m.: No. 5 Kentucky (-5.5) vs. No. 13 Buffalo, CBS (155)
  • 7:45 p.m.: No. 4 Gonzaga (-4) vs. No. 5 Ohio State, CBS (141.5)

Dallas: Spero Dedes, Steve Smith, Len Elmore and Ros Gold-Onwude

  • 6:10 p.m.: No. 3 Tennessee (-5) vs. No. 11 Loyola (Chicago), TNT (131.5)
  • 8:40: No. 3 Texas Tech (-1.5) vs. No. 6 Florida, TNT (133.5)

Wichita: Brad Nessler, Steve Lavin and Evan Washburn

  • 7:10 p.m.: No. 1 Kansas (-4.5) vs. No. 8 Seton Hall, TBS (154.5)
  • 9:40 p.m.: No. 3 Michigan (-3) vs. No. 6 Houston, TBS (135)