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.

7 Storylines in College Basketball This Weekend

Photo via SB Nation

It’s a big football weekend, with Conference Championship games being played on Sunday. Before you look forward to Sunday, here’s what you can look forward to this Saturday in college hoops.

Wichita State Tries to Avoid Back to Back Losses

Wichita State had the most embarrassing loss in program history under Greg Marshall on Wednesday, at home against SMU. As Rob Dauster pointed out on his College Basketball Talk Podcast, the Shockers gave up 1.38 points per possession, which is the worst by a Marshall coached team. The Shockers, while still one of the best teams in a weak AAC, need to up their defensive intensity if they want a long March run. On the flip side, Houston sits at 14-4 and 4-2 in the AAC. They hold above average wins against Arkansas and Providence. A win against the Shockers would really catapult them to a potential at-large bid come March.

Get Familiar with the Mountain West….Really

First place for the Mountain West Conference is at stake Saturday night, as Nevada hosts Boise State. If you haven’t paid attention, and I’m sure not many have, Nevada is a good basketball team. They are a Top 20 KenPom team, with a win against Rhode Island and close losses to Texas Tech and TCU. Nevada’s Caleb Martin is worth the watch, and is an under appreciated player in the country. The Wolf Pack sit at 6-0 in the Mountain West, hosting the 6-1 Boise State Broncos. Boise State is no slouch either, but needs a win to keep potential at-large or conference championship hopes alive. Senior guard has been the driving force between two close wins for Boise of late. He went for 44 a few games ago versus San Diego State. Offense is not an issue in this one. It will probably be the best late night game on Saturday night.

Can Notre Dame Finally Steal a Win

Notre Dame could use some comfort. The Fighting Irish lost a heartbreaker last Saturday, as a TJ Gibbs put back was halfway down before coming out. They followed up with a double overtime loss to Louisville earlier this week. Notre Dame no doubt got a boost with the return of Matt Farrell against the Cardinals, but they need to start winning some close games if they want to keep their tournament hopes alive. They won’t get punished for losses against good ACC teams without Bonzie Colson, but they need to steal some wins to keep their tournament dreams alive. For the Tigers, it could be a big weekend for them on and off the court, with Zion Williamson expected to make his college commitment.

Will Trae Young Bounce Back

Trae Young had his worst game of his brief college career this week against Kansas State. Major props to the Wildcats, who game planned and defended Young and the Sooners magnificently. Young finished with 20 points on 21 shots and a glaring 12 turnovers. It was a blip on the radar for Young. He and Oklahoma will look to rebound against Oklahoma State. The Sooners trounced OSU at home earlier in the year. Young finished with 27 points and 10 assists. On paper, this looks like a favorable way to bounce back.

The Only Ranked vs Ranked Match-Up of the Weekend

There is only one game on Saturday that features two nationally ranked teams and that is #11 Xavier travelling to Jersey to play #19 Seton Hall. This game has two storylines to it. For Seton Hall, they need a win to stay in the race in the Big East. They’ve lost two of their last three, and the two losses were blowouts. Xavier needs to win to keep pace with Villanova. A loss here wouldn’t doom the Musketeers, but it would basically ensure that Villanova gets at least a share of the Big East regular season championship. You also get two senior led teams in this game, and great individual match-ups. Desi Rodriguez versus Trevon Blueitt would probably the best match-up within the match-up

First Place Game in the Pac 12

After non-conference play, the Pac 12 seemed like a two team race between Arizona and Arizona State. Three weeks into conference play, Arizona sits atop the standings, but they don’t share it with the Sun Devils. Instead it is Stanford that is tied with the Wildcats at 5-1 in Pac 12 play. The Cardinals were 0-4 in non-conference play against KenPom Top 50 teams. They’ve been strong in conference however, with wins over UCLA, USC and Arizona State thus far. They have one of the best players in the conference in Reid Travis. He will have his hands full against probable conference POY, DeAndre Ayton. Winner has sole possession of first place in the Pac 12.

Kentucky NEEDS a Big Win

You never want to throw around the words “must win” this early into conference play, but this is close to a must win for Kentucky at home against Florida. The Wildcats are just a game behind the Gators in the SEC and could either end the weekend potentially tied for first or sitting 4-3 with a number of tough games looming. The Wildcats have games against Tennessee, who beat them, at Texas A&M, who should have beat them, at Auburn, at Arkansas and at Florida to end the season. Also jammed in there is a trip to West Virginia, though not a conference game. Kentucky still controls their fate, but with what we’ve seen of them so far, they cannot afford to dig themselves too deep a hole.

In addition to these storylines, you also have other ranked teams such as West Virginia, Gonzaga, Tennessee, Auburn and Arizona State looking to rebound after losses during the week. Honestly, there probably isn’t as much flareas prior weekends. With the way this season has gone though, expect nothing to go according to plan, and a lot to talk about on Monday.