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    Video Blog: Balancing Act

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    Life on the road is not all fun and games when you're a student-athlete. Skylar Diggins returns in her latest video blog for ESPNW with a look at her study habits during the NCAA tournament.

    Skylar and the Fighting Irish take on Maryland tomorrow night at 9 pm ET on ESPN, with a spot in the Final Four on the line.

    Sights And Sounds from Raleigh

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    522020_378651105488577_174465509240472_1245577_1109279409_n.jpg
    Photo courtesy of Michael & Susan Bennett/Lighthouse Imaging

    The top-seeded Notre Dame women's basketball team was recently featured in an article from Yahoo! contributor Eric Holden. But the story wasn't about the keys to victory or the Irish's best players. Instead, it focused on who fans should follow on Twitter. Of course it did. This is 2012. Check out Holden's list below:

    According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Skylar Diggins is part of a special club of lefty guards who have been instrumental in guiding their teams to the regional semifinals of the NCAA women's basketball tournament that continues this weekend.

    "Lefties, they are hard to play against," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "It takes you a little bit of time to get used to them. It throws you all off what you're used to doing."

    Diggins and the No. 1-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish will face the No. 5-seeded St. Bonaventure Bonnies on March 25 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC.

    Here's a look at the top five Notre Dame Fighting Irish women's basketball players to follow on Twitter:

    Skylar Diggins

    Diggins, a junior guard, is the premier women's college basketball player in the county. Her 162,000 followers on Twitter is a true testament to just how popular she has become amongst Notre Dame fans and non-fans alike. Diggins' popularity reaches far beyond the ranks of just the Fighting Irish faithful.

    On March 22, she tweeted "My coach @IrishCoachIvey is the best-dressed on the sidelines every game. Holla." Follow Diggins on Twitter @skydigg4.

    Kayla McBride

    McBride, a sophomore guard from Erie, PA, is a powerful wing player who found her range from beyond the arc this year. On March 22, she tweeted "All this basketball..I'm ready to get on the court!" Follow McBride on Twitter @kaymac_2123.

    Niele Ivey

    Ivey, a former WNBA player who is now an assistant coach for Notre Dame, was an All-American point guard during her college playing days with the Irish.

    On March 23, she tweeted "Charter flight to Raleigh!!!! North Carolina stand up!!!!!! We in the houseeeeeeeee!!!!" Follow Ivey on Twitter @irishcoachivey.

    Brittany Mallory

    Mallory, a 5'10" guard from Baltimore, MD, is a smart leader on the floor due to her veteran presence. She has been a team co-captain each of the past two seasons.

    Her Twitter account is protected, so only confirmed followers can access her page. However, she has over 1,700 followers, so she doesn't seem to mind allowing fans to follow her on the site. Her Twitter handle can be located @bmallory22. Fighting Irish Assistant Coach Carol Owens is also on Twitter @goirishcoachO.

    Natalie Achonwa

    Achonwa, a 6'3" sophomore from Ontario, is the first international player to suit up for Notre Dame in the program's 35-year history. She has become a fan favorite despite it being just her second year with the team.

    On March 23, she tweeted "fading out watching these bball games.... #nightnight world. xo, dream big!" Follow Achonwa on Twitter @natachon.

    Eric Holden is a big-time Skylar Diggins fan and will be cheering for Notre Dame to win big this year. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.

    With Sunday's 79-35 win against the Bonnies, the Irish advanced to the Elite Eight, where they will take on #2 seed Maryland on Tuesday at 9 pm ET on ESPN.

    A Perfect Sunday Afternoon

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    What a day to be a Notre Dame athletics fan.

    It started at 1:00 pm with another great crowd on hand at Arlotta Stadium, as the #6 men's lacrosse team opened up BIG EAST play against Rutgers. The Fighting Irish got four goals from Sean Rogers, two from Jim Marlatt and one apiece from six other scorers to win their fifth game in a row and improve to 6-1 overall.

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    At the same time the laxers were locked in a close one at Arlotta, the Irish squad on the diamond had a tough BIG EAST game at nearby Frank Eck Stadium. It took seven different pitchers, but the Notre Dame baseball team also won its fifth in a row, closing out a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh with a 7-5 win.

    Notre Dame held a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the eighth, but had managed just three hits through the first seven innings. Catcher Joe Hudson extended the lead to 7-3 with what turned out to be a crucial three-run double, as the Panthers were able to plate a pair of runs in the final frame.

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    Freshman Pat Connaughton picked up his first career victory, pitching 2.2 innings in relief, while Dan Slania came on for the final out, striking out Casey Roche to record his sixth save of the season.

    The NCAA women's basketball tournament continued at 2:30 pm in Raleigh, N.C., as head coach Muffet McGraw's team took on St. Bonaventure in the Sweet Sixteen. After a dominant 79-35 win against the Bonnies, it's now "3 down, 3 to go" in the quest for a national championship.

    Natalie Novosel had 16 points, Kayla McBride scored 10, and Kaila Turner added 14 off the bench to lead a balanced offensive attack. The Irish take on Maryland on Tuesday as they seek to earn a spot in the Final Four for the second year in a row.

    Perfect spring weather in South Bend and three big wins from Notre Dame lacrosse, baseball and women's basketball. All in all, a great Sunday afternoon for the Fighting Irish.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Live Blog: Baseball vs. Pittsburgh

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    Notre Dame returns to the diamond this afternoon, going for the sweep in its weekend BIG EAST series against Pittsburgh.

    UND.com will stream the game live at 1:00 pm ET, but Irish UNDerground will also have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's Irish baseball action. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

    Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

    Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

    With its win over California on Tuesday, the Notre Dame women's basketball team moved one step closer to its goal - a national championship. This weekend, the Fighting Irish will continue that pursuit when they travel to Raleigh, N.C. to take on fifth-seed St. Bonaventure in a Sweet Sixteen game.

    Tip-off is set for approximately 2:32 pm ET, following the 12:04 pm ET matchup between #2 seed Maryland and #3 seed Texas A&M.

    Before Notre Dame and St. Bonaventure contend for a berth in the Elite Eight, here's some more information on the Fighting Irish's opponent:

    • Record: 31-3 (at-large bid)
    • Coach: Jim Crowley (12th season)
    • Best wins: at Temple (74-65), at Dayton (56-55), vs. Marist (67-56)
    • Home arena: Reilly Center (capacity: 5,480)
    • Best players: Jessica Jenkins, Sr., G (14.3 PPG), Megan Van Tatenhove, Sr., F (13.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG)
    • Deepest tournament run: Sweet Sixteen (2012)
    • NCAA history: First tournament appearance
    • How it got here: First round - Defeated #12 seed Florida Gulf Coast University, 72-65 OT, Second round - Defeated #13 seed Marist, 66-63

    And a few facts about the university:

    • Location: Allegany, New York (approximately 80 miles south of Buffalo)
    • Founded: 1858
    • Conference: Atlantic-10
    • Enrollment: 1,957 undergraduates, 505 graduates
    • Academics: More than 50 undergraduate majors and programs, 20 graduate programs from the schools of Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, Journalism/Mass Communication, and Franciscan Studies
    • Religious Affiliation: Catholic (Franciscan)
    • Mascot: Bonnies
    • Colors: Brown and white
    • Notable alum: Bob Lanier (basketball Hall of Famer, led St. Bonaventure to the 1970 Final Four)

    There are certainly a few similarities between the Bonnies and the Irish. Both have just three losses, both won their conference's regular season championship, and both fell in the conference tournament title game (ND versus Connecticut, St. Bonaventure against Dayton). Not to mention, both universities are founded in the Catholic faith.

    Tune in on Sunday afternoon as head coach Muffet McGraw's team looks to reach its second consecutive Elite Eight. The game will air on ESPN2 and we'll have pre- and post-game coverage right here on UND.com.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Halftime: Notre Dame 31, California 31

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    We've got a good one on our hands tonight.

    The Notre Dame women's basketball team returned to the Purcell Pavilion court on Tuesday for a second round NCAA tournament contest against #8 seed California.

    After leading the Fighting Irish with 15 points in Sunday's win against Liberty, Kayla McBride picked up where she left off, draining her first two jump shots to excite the crowd early.

    Despite playing against a top-seeded Notre Dame squad on its home floor, from the opening tip-off, Cal was not intimidated. The Golden Bears jumped out to a 9-8 lead at the first media timeout, never trailed by more than six and hung with the Irish throughout the first half. Cal even took the lead with under a minute to play, before Notre Dame tied it after a quick timeout.

    The half was a tale of two different stat lines. Cal made four shots behind the arc, while Notre Dame took advantage of 12 free throws, knocking down 11 of those shots. Unfortunately for the Irish, the free throw line was the only place the shots were falling. They were 0-for-6 from long range, and just 34.5% from the field.

    Whether or not Notre Dame advances to Raleigh, tonight marks the end of a great era at the Purcell Pavilion for four Irish seniors who are playing in their final game in front of the home fans - Brittany Mallory, Devereaux Peters, Natalie Novosel and Fraderica Miller.

    Offensively, it was Novosel who led Notre Dame with 17 points. Her huge and-1 layup with just over four minutes left in the half absolutely ignited the crowd and gave the Irish their largest lead (six) of the game so far.

    From the looks of it, this one's going to come down to the wire. Whether or not that's a good thing, we'll find out in twenty minutes.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    A Tradition Unlike Any Other

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    NDgreenNails.jpg
    Photo by Michael & Susan Bennett/Lighthouse Imaging

    No, I'm not talking about The Masters.

    But rather, the Notre Dame women's basketball and the post-season fashion of the Fighting Irish.

    On St. Patrick's Day 1997, head coach Muffet McGraw's team took on Texas in a second round NCAA tournament contest. In the spirit of the holiday, the Fighting Irish painted their nails green before the game. Notre Dame defeated Texas, 86-83, and after advancing to their first Final Four with two more victories, the green polish became a tournament staple.

    The male travel party members, such as associate head coach Jonathan Tsipis show their solidarity by painting their left pinky finger green. Coach Tsipis has also been known to shave his head for the tournament.

    This year, the polish of choice for the Irish is Sally Hansen's "Going Green," according to the team's Facebook page.

    The March Madness traditions however, do not stop with the nail polish. Though not exclusive to the tournament, Notre Dame's kelly green road uniforms most often appear during the postseason. The Fighting Irish sported the alternate unis in last year's Final Four in Indianapolis.

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    Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

    During Sunday's first round game against Liberty, Notre Dame broke out its alternate home white jerseys with green trim, as well as green shoes. The Irish are 6-1 in those uniforms, which they will presumably also wear tonight against California.

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    Photo by Michael & Susan Bennett/Lighthouse Imaging

    The Fighting Irish take on the eighth-seeded Golden Bears tonight in the Purcell Pavilion at 7:20 pm ET. Catch the game on ESPN2 or if you can, make the trip to campus as Notre Dame looks to punch a ticket to Raleigh.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

    Skylar Talks Nutrition

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    It's different than her regular video blog, but Skylar Diggins returns on ESPNW, talking about how she and her Fighting Irish teammates stay healthy during the March Madness.

    The Irish take on California in a second round matchup tonight at 7:20 pm ET at the Purcell Pavilion. Catch it live on ESPN2, as Notre Dame looks to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

    Video Blog: Behind the Scenes With Skylar

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    Skylar Diggins (@skydigg4) is back with episode 2 in her video blog for ESPNW. Check out the behind the scenes footage from Skylar and the Irish as they prepared for their first round NCAA tournament game against Liberty:

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