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2017 ACC Tournament: What We Learned: Championship Edition

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The Irish took the Duke Blue Devils to the wire, just missing out on their second ACC championship in three years. Here’s three takeaways.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament Final-Notre Dame vs Duke Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Irish Should be Optimistic Heading into the NCAA Tournament

Aside from falling short of winning the championship, the ACC Tournament played out just right for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Having earned the double-bye with a three seed, Notre Dame had to play only three games total. They had the opportunity to boost their tournament resume — and did so — with wins against the Virginia Cavaliers and Florida State Seminoles.

These two games, in particular, were tough tests that give Notre Dame confidence moving forward both on the offensive end and on defense. From a statistical standpoint, the defense was bad against Duke, but Duke was red-hot coming into the game and has been playing their best ball of the year lately. Duke shot 67 percent from the floor.

Bonzie Colson Demands Your Respect

We saw his attitude on display in the Virginia and Florida State game, but Bonzie Colson took it to another level against the Blue Devils. He even took it so far as to momentarily morph into vintage Kevin Garnett while engineering his very own 6-0 run in the second half.

The rest of the ACC already knew Colson was a problem. Anyone scouting the Irish for the NCAA tournament has to get a load of this stat line: 29 points and eight boards. A relative lack of national attention may have made Colson a little angry heading in to the ACC Tournament, and it showed in a big way.

The Talking Heads are Always, Frustratingly Right

And it can be pretty frustrating. This may sound like sour grapes, but hear me out.

In 2015, heading into the ACC semifinals, the race for the title was billed a “three-team race.” Those three teams were the North Carolina Tar Heels, Virginia and Duke Blue Devils. Notre Dame eviscerated Duke, and won the championship game over North Carolina by eight.

Fast forward to 2017. Duke and North Carolina are playing in the ACC Tournament. A lot of other games taking place during the course of the day had ESPN coverage cutaways to the crew in Brooklyn. I don’t think they ever mentioned Notre Dame. Every analyst picked Duke, and talked about the team nonstop.

That’s not the sort of coverage you expect for a game the Notre Dame almost won. The two teams on the court last night are far closer to equal than anyone would have suggested during the day on television. But alas, the Blue Devils won, and everyone was just oh so right, despite themselves.

That’s fine. But when Notre Dame is in the discussion for the championship every two years, it becomes an issue.

Keep it tuned into One Foot Down as we cover Selection Sunday and all of 2017 March Madness.