The Notre Dame Fighting Irish just swept the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing, and will finish up the regular season at home against the Penn State Nittany Lions. It’s a reminder that the postseason is just about here, so we have some hard truths to face.
As of Sunday night, Notre Dame is ranked #26 in the PairWise rankings, and the cutoff for an at large bid is at #16.
So yeah... that doesn’t look too good. There were two streaks this season that really buried the Irish. Notre Dame went on a 3 game losing streak in January with 2 of those losses via the Michigan Wolverines. The Irish just had another 3 game losing streak in February with 2 of those losses via the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The 4 losses to Minnesota and Michigan were all games inside Compton Family Ice Arena — which is just maddening.
Of course there are always upsets in the conference tournaments, but the conference tournament winners also get an automatic bid — and now we have arrived at the only real shot for the Irish... the Big Ten Tournament.
As of Sunday, Notre Dame will likely finish 3rd in the regular season standings, and will likely take on Penn State (but maybe Ohio State) to start the tournament. This year the tourney is single elimination, so it could get a little wild with so much on the line for each game. The Irish have already proved that they are good enough to beat the best of the conference when they swept the #1 ranked Gophers in Minneapolis, but they have struggled against Wisconsin this year with no wins against the Badgers — but I suppose they’re due.