March 13, 2012
2012 NCAA Championship
(#10 seed) Xavier (21-12)
(#7 seed) Notre Dame (22-11)
Friday, March 16
9:45 p.m. (ET)
SEVENTH-SEEDED IRISH HEAD TO GREENSBORO FOR NCAA TOURNAMENT
Notre Dame (22-11) will travel to Greensboro, N.C. as the No. 7 seed in the South Region for the 2012 NCAA Championship. The Fighting Irish will face No. 10 seed Xavier (21-12) from the Atlantic 10 Conference on Friday in the second round. Tip-off is slated for approximately 9:45 p.m. (ET) inside the Greensboro Coliseum.
The winner of the Notre Dame-Xavier contest will face the winner of the Duke-Lehigh tilt on Sunday in the third round. The South Regional will be held March 23 & 25 in Atlanta, Ga.
The Fighting Irish are making their 32nd appearance in the NCAA Championship. Notre Dame boasts an all-time record of 31-35 in the tournament. This is the third straight trip for the Irish and the eighth in 12 seasons under head coach Mike Brey. Brey has a 6-7 NCAA Championship record during his Notre Dame tenure.
Friday's game can be seen on CBS with Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Clark Kellogg (analyst) and Tracy Wolfson (sideline) calling the action.
The Fighting Irish Digital Media radio crew of Jack Nolan (play-by-play) and Jordan Cornette (analyst) will call the action on radio and their broadcast can also be heard on UND.com.
IRISH AND MUSKETEERS RENEW NCAA ACQUAINTANCE
This will be the second meeting between Notre Dame and Xavier in the NCAA Championship. The sixth-seeded Fighting Irish topped the 11th-seeded Musketeers, 83-71, in the first round of the 2001 tournament in Kansas City, Mo. That was Mike Brey's first season with the Irish.
Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Xavier, 15-3. The `01 NCAA tournament was the last showdown between the two schools. That also was Brey's only meeting with Xavier during his head-coaching career.
The Irish have won four straight in the series and 12 of the last 13 (full series history on page 3).
Notre Dame has earned appearances in the postseason in each of the last 13 seasons, which marks the longest stretch in school history. The Irish have been to the NCAA tournament on eight occasions and the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) five times during this current stretch. Under head coach Mike Brey, Notre Dame has played in the NCAAs eight times and NIT four times.
BREY BOASTS NCAA TOURNAMENT SUCCESS
Mike Brey is no stranger to NCAA tournament success. He has a 6-9 record in the NCAA tournament as a head coach (6-7 at Notre Dame) and is 5-2 in opening-round games with the Irish (5-4 all-time).
In Friday's matchup with Xavier, he will be coaching in his 52nd NCAA tournament contest. In 16 coaching appearances (as either a head coach or assistant coach), he is 37-14 (.725) with six Final Four appearances and two national titles as an assistant coach. Brey reached the NCAA tournament as an assistant at Duke from 1988-95. In that span, Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils posted a 31-5 mark that included Final Four berths in 1988, `89, `90, `91, `92 and `94. From 1988-92, Duke reached the Final Four in five consecutive seasons and compiled a 25-3 record, including back-to-back national titles in `91 and `92. As head coach at Delaware, he guided the Blue Hens to NCAA tournament berths in 1998 and 1999.
IRISH AGAINST THE NCAA FIELD
Notre Dame faced 13 teams that earned a berth to the 2012 NCAA Championship field. The Irish went 10-7 against those squads. Here is how the Fighting Irish faired against those teams based on seeds: #1-4 (3-4); #5-8 (0-2); #9-12 (5-1); #13-16 (2-0).
A MEETING WITH THE A-10
Xavier will be the first team from the Atlantic 10 Conference that Notre Dame has faced since topping Saint Louis, 64-52, at the Chicago Invitational during the 2009-10 campaign. The Fighting Irish are 109-50 all-time against teams currently in the Atlantic 10.
This is the second time that Notre Dame has been a No. 7 seed for the NCAA Championship. The Irish garnered the Southeast Region's seventh seed for the 1985 tournament. That season, the Irish topped No. 10 seed Oregon State, 79-70, in the first round before falling to second-seeded North Carolina, 60-58, in the second round. Both of those games were played at Notre Dame's Joyce Center.
IRISH GET SENT SOUTH
This year marks the third time that Notre Dame has been placed in the South Region for the NCAA Championship. The Irish last played in the South Region during the 2010 tournament when they fell to Old Dominion, 51-50, in the first round in New Orleans, La.
In 2002, the Irish went 1-1 in the South Region. Notre Dame topped Charlotte, 82-63, in the first round before falling to Duke, 84-77. Those games were played in Greenville, S.C.
RARE TRIP TO CAROLINA FOR THE FIGHTING IRISH
This will be Notre Dame's third trip to North Carolina for the NCAA tournament. The Fighting Irish played in Charlotte during the first two rounds of the 1987 tournament and posted wins over Middle Tennessee State (84-71) and TCU (58-57). The Irish returned to the Tar Heel State for the 1988 NCAA tournament and fell to SMU in the first round, 83-75, in Chapel Hill.
Notre Dame has not played in North Carolina since falling at Duke, 74-72, on Jan. 26, 1994. Irish head coach Mike Brey was an assistant for the Blue Devils at that time.
The Fighting Irish have not played in Greensboro since the 1965-66 season when they suffered a 95-73 setback to Duke on Dec. 31, 1965.
THE LAST TIME
Notre Dame's last meeting with Xavier occurred in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Championship. The sixth-seeded Fighting Irish topped the 11th-seeded Musketeers 83-71 in Kansas City, Mo. That was head coach Mike Brey's first season with the Irish and Notre Dame was making its first NCAA tournament appearance since the 1989-90 campaign.
Current Notre Dame assistant coach Martin Ingelsby started that contest and tallied six points, five rebounds and nine assists. He also had four steals in 39 minutes of action. Notre Dame's current coordinator of basketball operations Harold Swanagan played eight minutes off the bench and notched two points, one rebound and had one blocked shot.
MARTIN MEETING THE MUSKETEERS ONCE AGAIN
During his freshman season at Purdue, Irish fifth-year senior Scott Martin faced Xavier in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Championship. Martin and the Boilermakers fell to the Musketeers, 85-78. Purdue was the sixth seed, while Xavier was seeded third. Martin tallied six points and six rebounds in 19 minutes of action off the bench.
NOTRE DAME CONTINUES CONSISTENCY IN BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP
Notre Dame topped USF, 57-54 in overtime, in the quarterfinals of last week's BIG EAST Championship before falling to Louisville, 64-50, in the semifinals. The Irish were seeded third in the league tournament.
That was Notre Dame's third straight appearance in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship and the fifth semifinal appearance overall (all under head coach Mike Brey).
Notre Dame is the only school to advance to the BIG EAST Championship semifinals each of the last three seasons. The Irish are the first team since Pittsburgh (2006-08) to earn three consecutive berths in the semifinals.
The Fighting Irish have won at least one BIG EAST Championship game in each of the last four seasons. That is a program-best streak.
NOT THEIR NIGHT
Notre Dame's 50 points in the 64-50 setback to Louisville on Friday matched its fewest ever in a BIG EAST Championship game.
The Irish matched a season-low total with two made three-point field goals against Louisville. Notre Dame also had just two at Gonzaga (Nov. 30). The two treys were the fewest ever for the Irish in a BIG EAST Championship game.
Louisville ended the first half on a 26-4 run (Notre Dame led 15-9 when the run began). The Cardinals led 35-19 at the intermission.
Notre Dame had nine steals, which is the second-highest total for the Irish this season and the most against a BIG EAST team.
The Fighting Irish held a 33-28 rebound advantage over the Cardinals. That is the first time this season the Irish have lost when outrebounding their opponent. Notre Dame is 14-1 when outrebounding its opponent this season.
RUNNING WITH THE BULLS
Notre Dame captured a 57-53 overtime victory over USF in the BIG EAST quarterfinals last Thursday. After falling behind 20-8 at the 12:42 mark of the first half, Notre Dame went on an 18-0 run to grab a 26-20 lead with 3:55 left in the opening half.
Notre Dame led 28-26 at halftime. The Irish are 16-1 this season when leading at the intermission.
COMING THROUGH IN CLOSE GAMES
Notre Dame is 3-0 in overtime games this season and 6-1 in its last seven overtime contests. The Irish are 10-8 in overtime during the Mike Brey era.
The Irish are 5-2 this season in contests decided by five points or less. In fact, dating back to the 2010-11 campaign, the Irish are 11-2 in their last 13 games decided by five or fewer points. Last year's squad was a perfect 6-0 in those contests.
BIG EAST HARDWARE
Notre Dame had two players walk away with two of the BIG EAST Conference's top awards at the conclusion of the regular season. Tim Abromaitis was named the BIG EAST Scholar Athlete of the Year for the third consecutive year and made history by becoming the first-ever three-time recipient of that honor. Jack Cooley was the recipient of the BIG EAST's Most Improved award as he became the first Irish player to earn that honor.
Cooley also earned second team all-conference honors, while Jerian Grant earned a spot on the league's all-rookie team.
IRISH SUCCESSFUL DOWN THE STRETCH
Notre Dame is 11-3 in its last 14 contests. Included in that was a nine-game win streak from Jan. 21-Feb. 22. That was the longest BIG EAST win streak in program history and was the third longest for an Irish team under Mike Brey.
JUST HOW FAR THEY'VE COME
Following its 65-58 loss at Rutgers on Jan. 16, Notre Dame stood at 11-8 overall and 3-3 in the BIG EAST. Notre Dame was averaging 68.9 ppg. and allowing its opponents 64.4 ppg. in those 19 contests. The Irish have gone 11-3 in their last 14 contests. Over the course of the last 14 games, the Irish are averaging 63.1 ppg., and allowing their opponents just 57.6 points. In three of those contests, Notre Dame held its opponent to under 50 points.
In the last 14 games, Notre Dame opponents are shooting just 40.4% (316-783) from the field, including 28.2% (60-213) from three-point range.
The Fighting Irish allowed just 59.2 points per game in BIG EAST regular-season play. That average ranked second among all league teams.
The Irish boasted the top three-point defense (25.5%) in BIG EAST regular-season play.
Notre Dame has held an opponent under 60 points 15 times this season (11 times against BIG EAST competition).
Junior forward Jack Cooley has produced a double-double in seven of the last 10 games. He has a team-best 13 double-doubles this season.
BIG EAST BIG MAN
Junior forward Jack Cooley finished BIG EAST regular-season play ranked first among all league players in shooting percentage (.620).
Cooley's .612 shooting percentage currently ranks sixth in Notre Dame history for a single-season mark. He is 65-for-99 (.657) from the field in the last 10 games.
He ranks fifth among all BIG EAST players with a 9.0 rpg. average this season. That includes 4.0 offensive boards per game, which ranks second in the league. He is averaging 1.6 blocked shots per game, which ranks sixth among all BIG EAST players.
In BIG EAST regular-season play, Cooley ranked second among all league players with a 10.2 rpg. average. He averaged a league-best 4.6 offensive rebounds per game in BIG EAST play.
Cooley was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team and was selected as the league's most improved player. He also was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll a team-best five times this season. He also was named the league's player of the week on Feb. 13.
DRAINING FROM DEEP
The Fighting Irish are averaging 6.4 made three-pointers per game this season. That ranks fourth among all BIG EAST squads. Notre Dame has made 10 or more three-pointers in a game five times this season. The Irish are 5-0 in those contests.
CASHING IN FROM THE CHARITY STRIPE
Notre Dame ranks third in the BIG EAST with a .708 free throw percentage.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
Over the last eight games, Notre Dame has only committed 72 turnovers (9.0 per game).
The Irish have had fewer than 10 turnovers in a game 15 times this season. The Irish have had fewer than 10 turnovers in six of the last eight games. Notre Dame had a season-low four turnovers against Sacred Heart (Dec. 19). The BIG EAST low was five at West Virginia (Feb. 8).
Notre Dame has a 1.44 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. That ranks eighth nationally and second among all BIG EAST teams.
The Irish rank third nationally in fewest turnovers per game (10.0).
Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins both are among the best in the BIG EAST in assist-to-turnover ratio. Grant ranks second (2.7), while Atkins is 10th (1.9).
ASSISTING IN THE EFFORT
Notre Dame had an assist on 15 of its 18 made field goals against USF in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship.
The Irish rank sixth in the BIG EAST with 14.5 assists per game.
Notre Dame has registered at least 20 assists in a game seven times this season.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Notre Dame has a +2.9 rebound margin in its 22 wins, while the Irish are -7.0 in that category in their 11 losses. Notre Dame is 14-1 this season when out-rebounding its opponent.
Notre Dame's top three scorers - Jack Cooley (12.4), Jerian Grant (12.3) and Eric Atkins (12.2) - are nearly averaging the same amount of points per game this season.
Seven different Irish players have posted a team-high point total in a game this season.
Junior forward Jack Cooley and sophomore point guard Eric Atkins both have led the Irish in scoring a team-best 10 times this season.
Seven Notre Dame players - Tim Abromaitis, Eric Atkins, Pat Connaughton, Jack Cooley, Alex Dragicevich, Jerian Grant and Scott Martin - have scored 20 or more points in a game this season.
Cooley has scored 20-plus points a team-best six times.
GRANT HAS ALL-AROUND GAME
Sophomore guard Jerian Grant, who is in his first season playing with the Irish after sitting out all of last season, was named to the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team. He is the first Notre Dame player named to the all-rookie squad since Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson both were selected in 2007.
Grant has team-high totals in points (407), assists (162), steals (43) and minutes played (1,192). His 54 made three-pointers also are a team- high total.
Grant has four 20-plus point efforts of this season.
Grant ranks 14th nationally - and second in the BIG EAST - with a 2.66 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Grant is shooting a team-best 81.9% (113-138) from the free throw line this season. That mark ranks sixth among all BIG EAST players.
ATKINS ON THE ATTACK
Sophomore point guard Eric Atkins is averaging 12.2 points-per-game this season. He averaged 5.8 ppg. last season as a freshman.
Atkins has scored 20 or more points in a game three times this season, including a career-high 27 points versus Mississippi Valley State in the season opener.
Atkins is shooting a team-best 37.1% (43-116) from three-point range this season (minimum 20 attempts).
LOGGING MAJOR MINUTES
Three Irish players - Eric Atkins (38.2), Jerian Grant (36.1) and Scott Martin (34.6) - are averaging over 34 minutes per game this season.
In the overtime win over USF in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship, Grant and Martin played all 45 minutes, while Atkins played 43 minutes.
Atkins has played 40-plus minutes 12 times this season.
BREY'S IRISH ONCE AGAIN AMONG THE BEST IN THE BIG EAST
Notre Dame's 13 regular-season BIG EAST victories are the third-most in program history. The Irish won 14 league contests in 2007-08 (14- 4) and 2010-11 (14-4).
The Fighting Irish have produced a winning record in BIG EAST play in each of the past three seasons and 10 times overall during head coach Mike Brey's 12 seasons at Notre Dame. This marks the third straight season that the Irish have won at least 10 league games. Notre Dame has won 10 or more BIG EAST contests eight times under Brey.
IRISH POST SIXTH-STRAIGHT 20-WIN SEASON
Notre Dame has reached the 20-win plateau for the sixth straight season and for the ninth time under head coach Mike Brey (12 seasons). The last time the Irish put together six-straight 20-win seasons was from 1983-89 under head coach Digger Phelps.
BEATING THE BEST
The Irish have defeated five AP top-25 teams this season. Notre Dame has topped #1 Syracuse (67-58), #11 Louisville (67-65 in 2ot), #15 Marquette (76-59), #22 Pittsburgh (72-59) and #24 Connecticut (50-48).
PLAYING WELL IN PURCELL
The Fighting Irish are 100-7 in their last 107 games played at home. That .935 home winning percentage over the course of the last six seasons ranks third nationally.
The Irish are 35-1 (.972) in their last 36 home games.
IRISH ENJOY HOME COOKING IN CONFERENCE PLAY
Notre Dame has gone 47-6 (.887) at home in BIG EAST play over the last six seasons. That is the best home winning percentage for any BIG EAST school in league play over that time period.
A SUCCESSFUL STREAK
Notre Dame's recent nine-game win streak (Jan. 21-Feb. 22) was the longest BIG EAST win streak in program history and was the third longest for an Irish team under Mike Brey.
Four of Notre Dame's victories during the streak occurred on the road. The Irish also defeated three ranked teams during the streak.
Notre Dame held those nine teams to a 37.6% (194-516) shooting clip from the field, including 25.9% (36-139) from three-point range.
The Irish averaged 67.0 ppg. during the streak while allowing just 55.7 ppg.
Freshman guard/forward Pat Connaughton also is a pitcher on the Fighting Irish baseball team. Connaughton is the 66th Notre Dame student-athlete to compete in both basketball and baseball and the first to do so since Tom Hansen during the 1973-74 academic year.
Baseball America ranks Connaughton as the 29th best freshman in the country. He is rated as the #4 Major League Baseball draft prospect in the BIG EAST according to Perfect Game, which ranks him as a 1-3 round draft pick in 2014.
Connaughton was 7-for-12 from three-point range in the win at Villanova on Feb. 18. The seven treys were the most for an Irish freshman since Chris Thomas had seven against Rutgers on Feb. 6, 2002. Connaughton's seven three-pointers also were the most for any Irish player this season.
He is 39-116 (.336) from three-point range this season.