Notre Dame Basketball: Why the Irish won’t and will make NCAA Tournament

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Standing at 17-12, Notre Dame basketball is on the outside looking in of the NCAA Tournament, but there’s still a chance they go to the Big Dance.

There were high expectations for Notre Dame basketball going into this season, as many thought the Fighting Irish were a true dark horse contender. To start out the season it looked like that might be true. But ever since it’s been a rough ride, to say the least.

At one time the Irish were considered a Final Four contender. The ups and downs of the season including unnecessary losses and injuries, have removed them from that conversation. It’s clear that there are plenty of reasons why Notre Dame will not make the Tournament, but there are a few of how they will.

Why Notre Dame won’t make the NCAA Tournament

The main reason why Notre Dame won’t make the NCAA Tournament is that they just haven’t done enough. There is not an impressive win for the Irish that the committee will look at and say “this is why they belong”.

The most impressive win for Notre Dame came too early in the season. Winning the Maui Invitational was huge for the Fighting Irish. After that, Notre Dame earned their way into many college basketball conversations as a Final Four contender.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball /

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Basketball

They dismantled what we thought at that time was a good LSU team 92-53. The next night they had their most impressive win of the season against Wichita State to claim the invitational. That one-point win over what is now the 11th ranked team in the country was big at the time, but not anymore.

Non-conference losses will also keep the Irish out of the Tournament. Although the losses to Ball State and Indiana were by a combined six-points, the Irish couldn’t afford either. The only loss Notre Dame could have going into ACC play was to Michigan State. Unfortunately, that game was not close enough to be considered a reasonable loss.

Move into conference play, and it’s extremely hard to make the Tournament going .500, even in the ACC. The Irish currently sit at 7-9 in the ACC with only two games left. The last one is against the No. one team in the country, Virginia.

How Notre Dame will make the NCAA Tournament

While Notre Dame’s resume is not in their favor, there is still a way they can make the Big Dance. The committee will take into factor what the Irish have gone through this season, which has been a lot.

Losing your National Player of the Year candidate for two months, as well as your second leading scorer and a couple other key pieces can tear apart a team. And it almost did.

No one expected Notre Dame to be at 17-12 at this part of the season in November, and they definitely didn’t expect it at the beginning of January as the injuries started to unravel.

Yet, after starting 3-0 in the ACC, Notre Dame had some good losses. Yes, there is such a thing as a good loss. A one-point loss to North Carolina and a double-overtime loss to Louisville show that the Irish can run with Tournament caliber teams.

The fact of the matter is that Notre Dame can still earn their way into the Big Dance. It all starts/ends on Wednesday. It the Irish beat Pittsburg, they will still have a pulse. If they lose, it’s all over. A win over Pitt and Virginia to wrap up the season might be enough to put the Irish in.

It will be vital that the Irish at win at Pitt make it to the at least the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament if they want to solidify a bid.

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Could it be possible if Bonzie Colson makes his return? It could be possible even if he doesn’t. The Irish will look to their seniors Matt Farrell and Martinas Geben to prove to the committee that they belong in the Big Dance.