Can Notre Dame Prove They Are NCAA Tournament Worthy


It’s resume season. All across the country, media reporters, fans and basketball junnkies everywhere begin looking at programs’ resumes and seeing who belongs in the big dance, and who is NIT bound. In the case of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, they don’t have a resume that jumps off the page. They do, however, have a decent argument as to why they should still be considered. That argument rests in the form of 6’6 Bonzie Colson.

Colson is Notre Dame’s preseason All-American forward who missed six weeks this year with a foot injury. In a conference as tough as the ACC, six weeks could bury a team at the bottom of the standings. Notre Dame isn’t in last, but they certainly aren’t in an ideal position entering the ACC Tournament. The Irish finished conference play 8-10 and are the 10 seed this week at the Barclays Center.

Here’s the argument Notre Dame diehards will make: Nine of those losses came without Colson. And four of those nine came without Colson and Matt Farrell, Notre Dame’s second leading scorer. Since the NCAA Tournament committee says they don’t penalize teams for injuries, a case has to be made for Notre Dame to get a bid, right? But how many losses can be ignored before the committee has to make that call?

Notre Dame had chances to strengthen their resume. They lost to Louisville in double overtime. TJ Gibbs had a game tying put-back go halfway down before bouncing out against North Carolina. They had two other close losses to Miami and Virginia Tech, two NCAA Tournament teams. One win there goes a long way to helping their case. But they couldn’t win. That’s why we’re here.

Notre Dame does have an argument. Their only real “bad” loss without Colson was against Georgia Tech, and that was without Colson and Farrell. That said, their resume with Colson and Farrell isn’t wowing either. They have a great win over Wichita State in the Maui Invitational Championship. That carries a lot of weight. Outside that though, they have a win over LSU who is ranked 59th in KenPom. Yes, the Irish are better with Colson, but they don’t have the proof. This is why they need to do well in the ACC Tournament. They need to pile up a resume with Bonzie Colson playing.

Notre Dame has Pittsburgh in the first round. Assuming they win, and that’s a safe assumption if you’ve seen Pittsburgh this year, they get Virginia Tech. Tech would be a good win for Mike Brey’s team. They are tournament bound, and a team the Irish played tough at home without their top two players. A win there sets up the biggest test: Duke. If Notre Dame can rattle off wins over Virginia Tech and Duke, I think they have to be considered for an at-large bid. I know you cannot be lenient on every team that suffers injuries, but this was a definite tournament team if they were healthy.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if Notre Dame played their way into the ACC Final. This was a team that was picked to finish third in the ACC before thet lost the Preseason ACC Player of the Year. Finally at full strength again, they could easily play themselves in by clinching the automatic bid, or at least getting to the Final and putting pressure on the committee. I think if Notre Dame can get past, or even to Duke in the third round, they deserve heavy consideration. The tournament would be better with them, and the committee knows that.

Thanksgiving Week Shows Us Why College Basketball is King

It’s rivalry week this weekend in college football, but the rest of this week belonged to college basketball. Thanksgiving week is filled with dozens of early season tournaments that give basketball junkies games to watch throughout the day. You have the Maui Invitational, the Battle 4 Atlantis, the NIT Tip-Off, the new PK80, and many more invitational tournaments going on this week. And with so many tournaments, comes many story headlines. This week showed why college basketball is the best, and not just in March.

Aloha, Maui

Let’s start in Maui. Yes, the championship game between Notre Dame and Wichita State was fantastic. Bonzie Colson looked just like the ACC Player of the Year and Notre Dame erased a 16 point deficit to top the Shockers in Maui. But how about Chaminade blowing out Cal by 24 points? The Division II program, who is 8-92 all time in their host tournament, is used to being on the receiving end of a blowout. Wednesday night though, it was them doing the dominating. Just watch the highlights. No November game will mean as much than Chaminade’s win over Cal this year. It was just awesome to see the sheer joy on their faces.

Upsets in Atlantis

How about the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament? Arizona vs Purdue. Number 2 vs number 18. Sounds like a championship game right? How about last place. Both teams were upset in the first round of the B4A. Purdue by Tennessee, Arizona by NC State. It’s an early taste of Match; An underdog playing with house money facing a Goliath of a team. Now, Purdue by no means is a Goliath and Arizona is missing a key piece in Rawle Alkins, but neither team should be 0-2 in this tournament. Instead you saw coaches like Rick Barnes, Kevin Keatts, Tim Jankovich and Rick Stansbury coach their teams to wins over NCAA tournament teams. 

Happy Thanksgiving to the Hurleys

Still not enough? How about some dramatics. How about Danny and Bobby Hurley holding on to one possession wins on Thanksgiving, in different fashions. Danny and Rhode Island had an absolute battle with #22 Seton Hall. Both teams showed why they were tournament teams next year and expect to finish near the top, if not at the top, of their respective conferences this season. Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Bobby Hurley is bringing Arizona State back. The Sun Devils took control in the second half against Kansas State and managed to hold on for a two point victory. Hurley has some players on his roster, that is becoming apparent. Both will play for championships tonight.

And let’s not forget the PK80. Dubbed the biggest early season tournament ever, the first round let the premier teams flex their muscles, setting us up for fantastic semifinal and final games. With six of the Top 20 teams in the country left, we will not be disappointed with how these brackets end.

Close games, upsets, MVP performances, great coaching, Mike Brey in a t-shirt. We’ve seen it all this week.And we’re only at Friday. With another full slate today and tomorrow, you can bet the headlines won’t end yet. This is why college basketball is the best.We’re just getting started and we’re already being spoiled. As Jon Rothstein would say, This is ONLY November.