2014-2015 ACC Champion Notre Dame advances to the Elite Eight and nearly slays a giant.
The 2014-2015 Notre Dame basketball season was great in so many ways. From the return of Jerian Grant, who would be named a consensus first-team All American, first-team all ACC and ACC Tournament MVP, to the 32-6 regular season record that featured huge wins in classics against Duke and at North Carolina. The ACC stretch culminated in a double buy in the ACC tournament and a historic run through Miami, Duke and North Carolina for Notre Dame’s first ever conference championship.
But the 2015 NCAA Tournament will forever be remembered as a breakthrough, as a trip to the Elite Eight saw the Irish finally make a long-awaited March run under Mike Brey. Many felt the Irish were worthy of a two seed after their run through the ACC tournament, but the committee felt differently, putting the Irish on the three line in the same region as overall all number one seed and tournament favorite, undefeated Kentucky. The Irish however had their hands full in the opening two rounds, narrowly escaping Northeastern and relying on eventual second-round NBA pick Pat Connaughton’s athleticism to block the potential game-winner against Butler. However, Notre Dame’s ultra efficient offense woke up in the Sweet Sixteen, as they eviscerated Wichita State. The Elite Eight game that followed would go down as one of the best in NCAA Tournament History.
After going toe-to-toe with the Wildcats down the stretch, Notre Dame found itself ahead by six points with 6:14 left. Kentucky would battle back and take a one-point lead with 2:37 left in the game, only to be answered with a 25-foot Jerian Grant three. Unfortunately for the Irish, that would be the last points they scored. Following a Karl Anthony-Towns bucket to tie the game at 66 and a blocked three-pointer by Willie Cauley-Stine, Aaron Harrison drew a blocking foul on Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson and stepped to the line to drain the go-ahead free throws. With six seconds left, Notre Dame would have to go the length of the floor. Jerian Grant’s three from the corner was long, thanks to outstanding defense by Willie Cauley-Stine, and the Wildcats moved on to the Final Four with a 68-66 victory.
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