Notre Dame basketball may have already lost twice this season, but with the undefeated teams being so slim, the Fighting Irish aren’t out of the loop yet.
There are only six undefeated teams in the top 25 as of December 25. Of those six, not one is named Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, or Virginia. In fact, there isn’t an undefeated team remaining in the ACC.
For Notre Dame, that’s all they asked for this holiday. With their hot start shut down with two consecutive losses, the Irish’s biggest concern was falling out of ACC contention, and having to struggle to work their way into the top 25 again.
Luckily, 2016 is the year of tight competition. Notre Dame may have two losses early in the year, but they aren’t alone. With plenty of season still left, the Irish aren’t any farther away from a title than they were with zero losses.
Because of the amount of losses everyone in the ACC already has, Notre Dame’s season doesn’t actually begin until conference play. Yes, in college sports, most of the season depends on your conference record. But no one in the ACC is going to go undefeated in their conference, and because of that many of these teams not in the top 10 look for out of conference resume builders. Example A, Villanova.
Besides the disastrous Syracuse, everyone who should finish at the top of the ACC has fallen to another team within the top 25. That means that just about everyone’s resume is almost equal. Some teams may have an impressive win or two already, but no one can say they’ve had a perfect season.
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So, Notre Dame has everything going for them. They may have lost to their first two ranked opponents, but they have plenty of big games remaining. On top of that, there’s currently five teams from the ACC in the top 25.
The Fighting Irish still have seven games remaining against top 25 teams. Although nine wins against ranked opponents was the goal, winning even a few of these games should earn them a spot in the NCAA tournament. If they win the five ranked games against ACC members, that’ll almost guarantee them a spot.
Conference play hasn’t started yet. The Irish may have lost two, and fans may be in a bit of a panic to find the answer, but there’s still a lot of season left. Thankfully, no one seems to be able to stay undefeated.
With how close the competition is, no one’s season is “over” yet. The Irish have to play their entire ACC schedule still. Stay calm, Notre Dame is still a top contender.