1957 Sweet Sixteen.
With John Jordan still at the helm, the 1956-1957 Fighting Irish amassed a 17-7 regular season record and an invite to the big dance. Despite early losses to Northwestern, Purdue and Manhattan, the Irish rebounded down the stretch to win nine straight going into March, featuring sweeps of both rivals DePaul and Marquette, as well as a revenge win over Butler who had defeated the Irish in January.
In the tournament, the Irish faced Miami University in the first round, prevailing over the RedHawks from the MAC, who had defeated both Cincinnati and DePaul during the regular season. The Sweet Sixteen saw the Irish match up with the Michigan State Spartans. Despite only being 14-8 at the time, the Spartans were ranked 11th in the nation. The game would be a tight one, but the Irish would ultimately fall, 85-83.
Here’s the interesting thing about tournament format in the 50s: there were third place games. As a reward for falling to the final-four bound Spartans, the Irish were matched in a consolation game against Pittsburgh. Notre Dame would eek out an 86-85 win in that game, laying claim to Mideast Regional Third Place. The Irish looked to carry that momentum into the 1957-1958 game, which featured a tough schedule and another trip to the Elite Eight.
Next: Another Eight