Feb. 25, 2017
-- NOTRE DAME WBB (@ndwbb) February 24, 2017
By Leigh Torbin
It all comes down to this.
If the No. 5 Notre Dame women's basketball team beats No. 8 Florida State on Sunday, the Irish are the outright ACC regular season champion and the top seed for next week's ACC Tournament just outside of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. If the Seminoles (25-4, 13-2 ACC) beat the Irish (26-3, 14-1), then the two will share the ACC title and Florida State will take the top seed for the league showcase next week.
A sellout crowd will be at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center when the teams tip off at 1 p.m. Sunday with the whole league race on the line. The Irish will hope to draw energy from their typically vociferous fans. Notre Dame has won 41 consecutive conference games at home, including a 31-0 mark since joining the ACC in 2013-14. In fact, the Irish haven't lost to an active ACC team on its home floor in 30 years dating back to a 69-48 loss to No. 20 Maryland on Jan. 10, 1987, the season before the coaching reigns were passed to current Karen and Kevin Keyes Head Women's Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw.
Here is some more information about the game:
About the Seminoles
Florida State stands at 25-4 on the year in 13-2 in ACC play. The similarity to Notre Dame's record is startling. Both Florida State (Nov. 14) and Notre Dame (Dec. 7) lost a close game at home to UConn early in the season. Both Florida State (Jan. 2) and Notre Dame (Dec. 29) were upset in ACC play around New Year's on the road at NC State. Both Florida State (Feb. 13 vs. Texas) and Notre Dame (Jan. 16 at Tennessee) lost an ESPN "Big Monday" game late in the season to a school that wears orange and uses the initials "UT." The lone difference is a 60-51 upset loss suffered by the Seminoles on Feb. 16 at Virginia, curiously, the same night Notre Dame narrowly dodged an upset at Clemson. Florida State and Notre Dame both have six wins this year over AP ranked teams.
Senior guard Leticia Romero is one of the world's best players, earning an Olympic silver media this past summer in Rio de Janeiro with the Spanish team. Like Lindsay Allen, Romero is a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award and a candidate for the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy. She averages 12.1 points per game and has 102 assists. She leads the ACC with a 52.2% mark from 3-point range. Shakayla Thomas has missed the past two games with a shoulder injury but an appearance on Sunday would not be unexpected. She leads Florida State at 15.0 points per game and grabs 5.5 rebounds per game. Sue Semrau is in her 20th season as head coach at Florida State, sporting a 376-208 career record and 12 career NCAA Championship appearances.
Notre Dame has won all five meetings with Florida State, each of them coming since the Irish joined the conference for the 2013-14 season. The lone previous meeting at Purcell Pavilion is the closest of the five contests as the Irish claimed a six-point victory, 74-68, on Jan. 2, 2015. Notre Dame has won both of the games played in Tallahassee.
The teams have met in the ACC Tournament two of out of Notre Dame's three years in the conference, with the Irish claiming wins in both the 2014 quarterfinals and the 2015 championship game.
Florida State is one of four ACC schools the Irish have never lost to, joining Clemson, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. Florida State is one of 12 ACC teams yet to beat the Irish in league play (all but Miami and NC State).
On Feb. 25, 2016, the No. 2 Irish held on for a 73-66 win over the 12th-ranked Seminoles in a "Big Monday" game at the Tucker Center in Tallahassee. Brianna Turner led Notre Dame with 15 points while Lindsay Allen contributed a then-career-high 11 assists. Madison Cable (13), Marina Mabrey (13) and Arike Ogunbowale (11) each scored in double figures for Notre Dame. Sharp shooting from the outside by the Irish proved critical as Notre Dame sank 10-of-20 (50%) of its 3-point tries.
Irish In ACC Driver's Seat
The Irish are in sole possession of first place in the ACC standings and in position to extend a couple of historic championship streaks.
The Irish are vying for their fourth consecutive outright ACC regular season and tournament championships, a feat only previously accomplished by Duke from 2001-04. Including the final days of BIG EAST membership, Notre Dame is looking for six straight outright regular season conference championships overall and five consecutive conference tournament championships.
Looking at the handful of others to accomplish these feats:
FOUR STRAIGHT OUTRIGHT ACC REGULAR SEASON CHAMPS
2012-16 OUTRIGHT REGULAR SEASON CONFERENCE CHAMPS
Notre Dame (BIG EAST and ACC)
Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun)
Green Bay (Horizon)
FOUR STRAIGHT ACC TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIPS
North Carolina (2005-08)
2013-16 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS
Notre Dame (BIG EAST and ACC)
Albany (America East)
Baylor (Big 12)
4x OUTRIGHT ACC REGULAR SEASON & TOURNAMENT CHAMPS
Opponents Frozen in February
Notre Dame has won each of its last 40 games played in the month of February.
The Irish have not lost a game in February since West Virginia came away from Purcell Pavilion with a 65-63 win on Feb. 12, 2012.
Notre Dame is 6-0 in February of 2017, including a home victory over No. 12 Louisville and a road win before a Carrier Dome women's record crowd of 11,021 at No. 21 Syracuse.
Consistent ACC Success For Irish
Since joining the ACC for the 2013-14 season, Notre Dame has been the league's top program, compiling a 61-2 regular season record and winning three consecutive regular season and tournament championship doubles. The Irish are 70-2 in ACC competition, including league tournaments.
The first loss came at Miami on Jan. 8, 2015, and the Irish won all 29 regular season games and 35 games in a row vs. ACC teams including conference tournament play until the Dec. 29 loss at NC State. The 35-game ACC streak including tournament games is the 15th-longest in NCAA history and the second-longest in ACC history behind a 51-game run by Duke from 2001-04.
The 29-game ACC regular season winning streak is the 24th-longest such streak in NCAA history and the second-longest in ACC history behind just a 42-game run by Duke from 2001-04.
The Irish maintain an active streak of 31 consecutive home wins in ACC play, part of an overall streak of 41 consecutive home league wins including the final years of Notre Dame's BIG EAST membership.
Allen Named Senior CLASS Award Finalist
Senior Lindsay Allen is one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. The honor recognizes seniors who excel both on and off of the basketball court.
Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to help select the winner, and fans are encouraged to submit votes online at the Senior CLASS Award website through March 20. Fan votes will be combined with those of the media and Division I head coaches to determine the winners.
Fans are encouraged to vote for Allen online at seniorCLASSaward.com.
How to Watch/Listen
The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 with Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli handling the call. It will also be streamed online at WatchESPN.
Information on how to access WatchESPN is available here.
For those familiar with the WatchESPN, the direct link to the webcast of Sunday's game is available here.
Bob Nagle is in his 12th season as the radio voice of the Irish. Notre Dame's local home on the radio is Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) while the audio is also available globally via WatchND.tv and the WatchND app. The audio link for the broadcast is here.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame's women's basketball and men's golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.