It’s Selection Sunday, the day all 68 teams for the NCAA Tournament — and their seedings — will be revealed.
When: 5:30 to 7 tonight
Where: CBS or online at NCAA March Madness Live
WHERE NOTRE DAME IS HEADED
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish fell short of their quest for a second ACC Tournament title in three years, but they still improved their NCAA Tournament resume during their run to the conference championship game.
A convincing win against a Virginia Cavaliers team that has given the Irish fits through the years followed by a stellar first half performance that led to a victory over the Florida State Seminoles has Mike Brey’s team poised for a three or four seed when the bracket is revealed this evening. Their close loss against Duke (arguably the hottest team in the nation) shouldn’t do anything to hamper their resume.
Joe Lunardi, ESPN college basketball “bracketologist,” has the Irish trending upward and sitting at a three seed in a region with Villanova and Baylor. The Irish would play a first round matchup in Milwaukee with the Iona Gaels, who won the MAAC Tournament last weekend to punch their second straight ticket to the big dance.
Having covered that MAAC Tournament, I can tell you that Iona has a group of solid shooters. However, like most mid-major teams, they lack size in the paint, which will be a welcomed relief for an Irish team that had to fight and claw for every board throughout the ACC Tournament.
This would be a favorable — and I think fair — draw for the Irish. They deserve to have their seeding improved after their performance in the ACC Tournament, and I’m sure they would love a rematch with the Villanova Wildcats with a chance to make it three straight Elite Eight appearances.
Over at CBS Sports, college basketball analyst Jerry Palm does not think as highly of Notre Dame’s resume. Palm has the Irish as a five seed (also beginning in Milwaukee) taking on the winner of a play-in game between the Rhode Island Rams and Vanderbilt Commodores. The top two seeds in this hypothetical bracket would be the Kansas Jayhawks and Oregon Ducks, which of course would be tough sledding for the Irish.
Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel has the Irish right in the middle of the previous two projections, as a four seed and also playing in Milwaukee, this time against the Winthrop Eagles. This bracket has Villanova and the UCLA Bruins as the top two seeds in the East Region.
We mentioned the Irish and their hunger for another shot at Villanova (who they played very tough earlier in the year), but another tough matchup would be UCLA if the Irish were to face them in the Elite Eight. The defense would have to step up against the Bruins’ four scorers who average more than 14 points per game. The Irish are definitely a team that can battle the Bruins in a shootout, given the fact that UCLA does not play elite defense by any means.
So the universal forecast has the Irish beginning their March Madness journey in Milwaukee, and 3-5 seems to be their seeding range. I would argue that their ceiling is a third seed and their floor is a fourth. Fifth just seems too low to me.
Regardless of these projections, what matters is the bracket that is revealed this evening. Let’s just hope Lunardi is right.