Ah, March. The season to
lose tons of money betting on teams that you’ve never heard of watch a lot of basketball at work not during company time. And everyone is always looking for that Giant Killer, aka the torpedo that will sneak up and sink the big battleships.
And while Notre Dame doesn’t necessarily have the name of a torpedo like, say, a Lipscomb, they fit the bill this year because there’s a chance they won’t even make the Dance. They almost certainly have to beat Virginia Tech and then possibly even Duke in the ACC Tournament. So nothing is a given.
However, if they can get in the Dance, they can do some damage (and possibly even win the ACC tournament). First of all, they have one of the more underrated coaches in the country, Mike Brey, who could also be a stunt double for your unshaven, drunk uncle at Thanksgiving. He does more with less than almost anybody in basketball. Here are the rankings of their last 4 recruiting classes – 2017: 106th, 2016: 40th, 2015: 43rd, 2014: 55th. Yet, the Fighting Irish made the round of 32 last year, the Elite Eight the year before, and the Elite Eight the year before that. Give him a top 20 recruiting class, and he’d easily have a Final Four team. The man can flat out coach.
The next reason the Irish have a shot wreck some teams’ plans is a man named Bonzie Alexander Colson II. Colson is the middle cog in the machine, the straw that stirs the drink, the spark that starts the flame, [insert generic cliche here]. After he went down with an injury, the Irish lost 7 in a row and 8 of 10. They went 13-4 with him; 6-9 (Nice!) without him. Pretty simple math. He averages 20.9 pts and 10.6 rips. In his second game back, he put up 24 pts and 15 rips on the road against the #1 team in the country, Virginia, in a 5-pt loss. He’s just a complete game changer for the Irish.
Now, can the Irish get there? Well, they got the ABSOLUTE must-win versus Pittsburgh, although it was a bit more difficult than anticipated. Their BPI is 31st in the country, so that bodes well for them. However, their Quadrant I record is 2-8. Not as good. Will the committee take into consideration that many of those losses came without Colson? The world may never know… Actually…they’ll know Sunday when the bracket comes out. So ignore that.
They’re 2-pt favorites vs Virginia Tech on Wednesday. The Hokies won 80-75 in South Bend earlier this year. However, not only was Colson out, but starting PG Matt Farrell was, too, as well as freshman G D.J. Harvey. If the Irish can run Virginia Tech, a good shooting 3-pt team, off the 3-pt line, and they play through Colson, especially down low, they will come away with a victory. That victory should be enough to get them in the Dance. And anyone who has to play them come tourney time, watch out. Uncle Mikey and Cousin Bonzie have a few tricks left up their sleeves.
Prediction: Notre Dame 69 Virginia Tech 63
Prediction: Notre Dame IN