December 9, 2006
Irish take it to the bank
Cheering for a Notre Dame bid to the NCAA tournament? Keep an eye on the upcoming ACC and SEC seasons.
Naturally, after a 6-10 season in the Big East, priority No. 1 for Notre Dame is to make significant improvement against what appears to be a much more manageable conference slate.
But if the Irish go 9-7 or 8-8 in the Big East-which suddenly looks quite possible in the aftermath of upset victories over No. 23 Maryland (ACC) and No. 4 Alabama (SEC)-this past week's accomplishments could go a long way toward Notre Dame's first NCAA tournament berth in four seasons.
"These are very powerful wins for the big picture," said Irish head coach Mike Brey moments after Notre Dame knocked off Alabama, 99-85, Thursday night in the Joyce Center.
"Now, we have three games before Christmas, and if you're not ready to play, you flush (away) some of the work you did this week. That's something we'll talk about before Louisville (Jan. 3) comes in here. We respect everybody."
Suddenly, the nation must stand up and take notice of a Notre Dame squad (7-1) that looked like another also-ran when the Irish fell to Butler on Nov. 13 in the pre-season NIT.
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