March 13, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame men's hoopsters are headed to Chicago, bringing to the NCAA Men's Basketball Championships their best seed in 30 years.
Head coach Mike Brey's Irish (26-6) are coming off one of the more successful down-the-stretch runs in Notre Dame history. The Irish have won 12 of their 14 games heading into NCAA play - with those dozen victories including seven wins over teams selected for the 2011 NCAA bracket, and one of those a road win over #1 seed Pittsburgh. Notre Dame's third-round BIG EAST Tournament win over #25 Cincinnati by 38 points marked the second-largest victory margin in the history of the league championship tournament.
The Irish received a #2 seed, its best since a #2 seed in 1981 when Notre Dame defeated James Madison in a second-round game and then fell 51-50 to BYU in a regional semifinal in Atlanta.
With 26 wins already recorded by Notre Dame, the only Irish men's basketball team in history to win more often was the 1908-09 team that finished 33-7 in only the fourth season of varsity basketball on campus.
Notre Dame's men's basketball team, seeded second in the Southwest Region of the 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, takes on 15th-seed Akron (23-12 and the Mid-American Conference postseason tournament champion) Friday (March 18) in a second-round game in Chicago, Ill., at the United Center (capacity 20,500), based on NCAA pairings released tonight. If Notre Dame advances, the Irish Sunday would take on the Texas A&M (#7 seed at 24-8)-Florida State (#10 seed at 21-10) winner in a third-round matchup.
The other games played in Chicago also feed into the Southwest Region: sixth-seeded Georgetown (21-10) versus the winner of USC (19-14)/Virginia Commonwealth (23-11) -- and third-seeded Purdue (25-7) versus #14 St. Peter's (20-13). The top four seeds in the Southwest (that NCAA regional will be played the following weekend in San Antonio) are #1 Kansas (32-2), #2 Notre Dame (26-6), #3 Purdue (25-7) and #4 Louisville (25-9).
The Irish previously have made six NCAA appearances in the Brey era:
-- In 2010, the sixth-seeded Irish dropped a first-round South Region game 51-50 to #11 seed Old Dominion in New Orleans.
-- In 2008, the fifth-seeded Irish defeated #12 George Mason 68-50 in a first-round game in Denver, before losing a second-round contest 61-41 to #4 Washington State.
-- In 2007, the sixth-seeded Irish dropped a first-round Midwest Region game in Spokane to 11th-seeded Winthrop.
-- In 2003, the fifth-seeded Irish defeated Wisconsin-Milwaukee in an NCAA first-round game and fourth-seeded Illinois in a second-round matchup (both in Indianapolis) before falling in a West Regional semifinal to top-seeded Arizona in Anaheim, Calif.
-- In 2002, the eighth-seeded Irish men defeated Charlotte in the first round in Greenville, S.C., before falling to top-seeded Duke in the second round.
-- In 2001, sixth-seeded Notre Dame defeated Xavier in the first round in Kansas City, Mo., before dropping a second-round game to third-seeded Ole Miss.
Notre Dame's men are making their seventh NCAA visit in the 11-season Mike Brey era and the 31st in school history (30-34 record). The Irish played in the NCAA Final Four 33 seasons ago in 1978 in St. Louis.
The Irish are making their 12th straight postseason appearance (NIT in 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2009). That's the best streak in Notre Dame history in that category -- besting the next best run of nine straight from 1973 through 1981 (one NIT, then eight straight NCAAs).
Notre Dame receives a very limited allotment of tickets for the NCAA men's games in Chicago, and there will be no public sale. Student sale information will be e-mailed to eligible students Sunday night. Tickets to the Chicago games may be available through Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or go HERE. Full (three session) ticket packages are $243 each. The $243 price includes one ticket to all three doubleheaders - which is a total of six games. Cost is $225 plus a $15 service charge and a $3 Good of the Game fee. Single-session tickets will be sold only if seats remain available March 17.
Notre Dame has never played an NCAA game at the United Center -- but the Irish are 2-1 in that facility. Notre Dame lost to DePaul 61-48 on Dec. 10,1994; defeated DePaul 82-55 on Dec. 1. 2001; and defeated Valparaiso 55-53 on Dec. 30, 2002. The Irish played in Chicago in 1953 at the old Chicago Stadium in their first year ever in the NCAA Championships - defeating Pennsylvania in a regional semifinal and falling to Indiana in the regional final. Notre Dame played an NCAA first-round game in 1963 at McGaw Hall in Evanston, Ill., losing to Bowling Green.
The Irish have played DePaul 16 times at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. -- and Notre Dame also fell to Northwestern in a Postseason NIT contest there in 1983. In addition, the Irish played a variety of opponents in 85 games at the old Chicago Stadium, beginning in 1941-42 and the last time against Illinois in 1973.
The NCAA began seeding teams in its 1979 tournament - and in those previous 15 years in which the Irish have participated, here's how they've done at the various levels (11-15 overall, 5-6 under Mike Brey):
1979 - 2-1 as #1 ; 1980 - 0-1 as #4; 1981 - 1-1 as #2 ; 1985 - 1-1 as #7 ; 1986 - 0-1 as #3 ; 1987 - 1-1 as #5; 1988 - 0-1 as #10; 1989 - 1-1 as #9 ; 1990 - 0-1 as #10 ; 2001 - 1-1 as #6 ; 2002 - 1-1 as #8; 2003 - 2-1 as #5 ; 2007 - 0-1 as #6 ; 2008 - 1-1 as #5; 2010 - 0-1 as a #6.
Multiple appearances have been three times each as a #5 (4-3) and a #6 (1-3), twice as a #10 (0-2).