In what shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to anyone, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team was not included in the 68 teams just announced as those in the 2018 NCAA Tournament during the Tourney Selection Show.
The Irish suffered a couple bad setbacks during non-conference play this season that certainly contributed to that, losing to Ball State at home on a buzzer beater and losing to Indiana in an overtime thriller that the Irish should have been able to sew up in regulation.
Then, after a horrendous slew of injuries took BONZIE COLSON out for 2 months, Matt Farrell out for 5 games, DJ Harvey out for the rest of the season, and a couple others (John Mooney, Rex Pflueger) out for a couple other games, the Irish stumbled through a 7-game losing streak and came up juuuust short in potential resume-building wins throughout ACC play against the likes of North Carolina, Louisville, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Miami.
COLSON finally returned on the last day of February and looked like his old self, putting up 12 and 9 with 3 blocks on Senior Night against Pittsburgh. The following Saturday, the Irish came up just short of what would have been a critical resume-defining win on the road at #1 Virginia, as ND fell short 62-57.
Thus, the Irish entered the ACC Tournament needing to win at least 2 games, and likely 3, to feel comfortable they would earn an at-large bid after their 18-13 regular season. The Irish proceeded to barely beat hapless Pitt, needed a miracle 21-point comeback to defeat Virginia Tech, and then got blown out in the second half against Duke in the quarterfinals.
From that loss to today, all the talking heads and journalists went back and forth on whether or not the Irish belonged, whether they would be included, etc. Unfortunately, the conference tournaments weren’t especially favorable for the Irish, as various conference tournament championship automatic bids were stolen by teams not projected to make it as an at-large, and other bubble teams did enough in their respective tournaments to make the Irish’s bubble burst.
ND will likely be a 1-seed in the NIT, and we will be sure to keep you all posted on their first round matchup, game time, etc.