The Notre Dame Fighting Irish played in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament in a game that was believed to be a “play-in game” to the NCAA tournament for the squad, given their predicament. I swear to you, despite the final score, it really was a valiant effort by the Irish.
Notre Dame hung tough for the first half. They trailed by only four at halftime. They weathered an early Grayson Allen storm of threes, and appeared to be in decent shape.
Then the second half happened... I’m sure we all know what went down. But let me say say this.
The Duke basketball team that beat Notre Dame is as unreal as Duke fans can be insufferable. They were absolutely on fire. Grayson Allen couldn’t miss. And Marvin Bagley III? He’s no NCAA basketball player. He belongs in the NBA. If this was middle school basketball, they would have moved that kid up to JV or Varsity.
Coach K has one hell of a team that I’d consider a lock to make the final four if I didn’t know more about college basketball than I do. Fully expect them to drop intensity and lose in the second round. But, dropping intensity is nothing they did against Notre Dame Thursday night.
On the Irish size, it’s foolish to think that Notre Dame is at full strength right now. Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell - the core of the team - left plenty of points on the floor missing shots they usually make. Colson finished with 18 and 9 rebounds, and Martinas Geben quietly had a solid game with 14 points. Allen had 23 points and Bagley had 33 (lol).
Ultimately, the Blue Devils put Notre Dame away with a big run late, handing the Irish the 88-70 loss.
Notre Dame will find out Saturday whether they’ll be dancing in the NCAA tournament or not. We’ll see what the committee says. For what it’s worth, I don’t think they have a shot to make it.