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    Following Flynt - Huge Night for Irish Hoops

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    It's Big Monday on the ESPN family of networks, but it might be an even bigger evening for Notre Dame basketball.

    The fun starts at 7 pm ET on ESPN when the #20/#19 men's team takes on #11/#12 Georgetown at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

    Despite a loss to St. John's on Saturday, head coach Mike Brey's squad is still in contention for one of the two remaining double-byes (Syracuse and Marquette have already clinched) for next week's BIG EAST tournament.

    At 12-4 in the conference, Notre Dame is in third place and currently leads Georgetown and South Florida by one game. A win tonight, and the Irish would not kick off their quest for a conference title until next Thursday's quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden.

    If Notre Dame drops its second straight game, it risks losing that spot and having to play its first game on Wednesday, Mar. 7. Still, the Irish control their own destiny and could rebound this Friday at home against Providence. A win against the Friars, and Notre Dame would be, at worst, in a three-way tie for fourth place with Georgetown and South Florida.

    Both the Hoyas and the Irish defeated the Bulls, so the tiebreaker would go in favor of Georgetown and Notre Dame for the third and fourth seeds.

    Beyond conference seeding, a road victory over a ranked opponent would bolster Notre Dame's already impressive NCAA tournament resume, while also taking some pressure off of Friday's Senior Night game.

    On the women's side the #3 Fighting Irish travel to Hartford for a game against #4 Connecticut at 9 pm ET on ESPN2. The Huskies have dominated the series, 28-6, but Notre Dame has taken the past two matchups - last March in the Final Four and earlier this season at the Purcell Pavilion.

    The Irish have already clinched a share of the BIG EAST regular season championship, as well as the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament, but they can earn their first outright title - something they have not accomplished in 17 years - with a win tonight.

    Notre Dame shared the conference honor in 2000-01, when it split the title with UConn. That season, head coach Muffet McGraw also led the program to its first and only national championship, a feat the team has its sights set on again this year.

    The Irish are 9-1 this season against ranked opponents, and have tallied four wins against top 10 teams. They will be back at the XL Center on Saturday, Mar. 4 at 2 pm ET on ESPNU in the BIG EAST quarterfinals against a to-be-determined opponent.

    Clear your schedule, grab your remote and get your popcorn ready for what should be an exciting night of Notre Dame basketball.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

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