Give me your prediction for the Irish. Where will they finish in the ACC regular season, how far will they go in Greensboro, and what's up in March?
4pointshooter: The few of you who have been keeping up with my roundball coverage and comments the last few years probably know that I declared this season a Final Four potential season IF we land Demetrius Jackson. Guess what? That guy is going to play for Our Lady's hoops team this season. As a result, I stand by the statement that this team has the potential to play in Cowboys Stadium...oh my bad - AT&T Stadium - next April. That depends on the following things:
- Sherman plays like the SOLID big man that Brey (and JoeSchu) hopes he can be
- Grant plays like he did in the second half and overtimes against Louisville more often than not
- Auguste continues to make strides on both ends of the floor
- Jackson earns Brey's trust to run the offense full time for 5-10 minutes a game.
If all four of these things (they don't call me 4pointshooter for nothing... well I called myself that... shut up) go ND's way, a top 3 ACC seed and a deep March (and early April!) run are most definitely in play. How likely is it? That I won't say.
alstein: I think we will all be equipped to make better ACC predictions after we are able to see the non-conference season, but for now, I will predict a 4th place finish for the Irish, which is hedging a bit, because I think UNC, Virginia, and ND will be competing for third through fifth places. Notre Dame does have a great chance to win the ACC tournament this season. That tourney rarely ends up Duke v. UNC, as there always seem to be major upsets. The Irish have experience and might have a leg up in that regard playing against teams for the second and third time, plus they don't necessarily rely on one or two key guys like many other teams do, so I think they can cope with the tournament randomness. If they can do that, we are talking about a 2 or 3 seed for the NCAAs, which positions them well to get to the Sweet 16. If they can't have success in Greensboro and find themselves a 6 or 7 seed; well, then I don't think I'll be predicting any second weekend play until they prove they can get there. I've been burned too many times.
CW: I really want to see how willing Mike Brey is to dip into the bench and extend the rotation, because if he does that and the new rules allow the Irish to fun and gun, they could have a really great season. I think they'll finish fourth in the conference (behind Duke, UNC and Syracuse), and I'm going to say the departure from Madison Square Garden and the addition of Demetrius Jackson allow them to reach their first conference title game. They'll get into the NCAA tournament comfortably, and from there it's all matchups. Bottom line: This team will at least be more fun to watch than last season's slogging unit.
JoeSchu: I think the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish Men's Basketball team will be incredibly fun to watch this year. They're going to share the ball well, they're going to run opportunistically, and they are the most athletic bunch to take the floor for ND that I can remember. Predictions with this bunch are very difficult, because despite all that talent, this schedule is brutal. They play 3 of the top 6 BigTen teams on the road or in "neutral" sites (Indy won't be neutral). They managed to draw Duke in to Purcell Pavillion, but it is during winter break (proof that Coach K really runs the ACC thru fear and intimidation). I think there are going to be some ups and some downs with this group. I think they get 1 out of 3 from the Big10, which may drop them out of the rankings for a while, but I think they'll find their footing and legitimately compete for a 4 seed in Greensboro. Even at a 5 or 6 seed, they won't be sweating selection Sunday. I think the change in venue from the bright lights of NYC to the much more subdued Greensboro, NC also does ND some good, and they'll certainly make the semi's and be in a very entertaining and competitive game. I'm guessing we're looking at a 4-6 seed, and I hate to do this to myself, but OK, this is the year. ND sees the 2nd weekend of the dance. A deeper back court makes ALL the difference, and this team finally as the athleticism to run and get to the rim if the J's aren't falling. Sweet 16 or bust baby! After that, all bets are off.