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In High Rent NCAA Zone
By Alan Tieuli
(IE) – Talk about the Mother of All
Sweet Sixteen's. This may be the most
star-studded collection of teams that has entered the second weekend in NCAA Tournament
history. And Notre Dame is not about to play
the role of shrinking violet.
"I've seen this program evolve," said senior shooting
guard Matt Carroll. "We've beaten
(highly ranked) teams. Last year we almost
beat Duke. This year it's just a
different mindset. We believe we are one of
the top teams in the country. We expect to
The Irish are going to need that kind of bravado if they are to qualify for the school's first Final Four in 25 years, or earn the program's first NCAA title. The opposition remaining in this tournament is
daunting. Eleven teams are either regular season or conference tournament champions. Eight
have won national championships. All four top seeds remain. The national champs from the last seven seasons are all still playing.
"Our guys have a lot of pride in our program now," said
head coach Mike Brey, never one to back down
from a challenge. "Certainly (these teams) have done it longer than us, but if you
ask around the country now, we're a force to be reckoned with. We're one of the top college basketball
Notre Dame, 24-9 and fresh off an invigorating pair of victories in
the first- and second-rounds at the RCA Dome, has
to endure the most difficult region in the Dance. The
16 remaining teams have a collective 563 NCAA Tournament victories. The four teams in the West Region – Duke (75),
So the Irish are up against the best of the best, as they have been
"We have played seven teams in the Sweet 16," said Brey.
"That says it right there, how tough our schedule was.
We feel we have a chance to compete and have success against a great
Notre Dame went 4-5 against Sweet 16 teams. Out of conference, it
That type of high scoring game is exactly what Brey wants when his
team squares off with West top seed Arizona Thursday at 7:20 Eastern time at the Arrowhead
Pond in Anaheim, California.
"It may 102-101, that would be alright," said Brey. "We're
kind of a team that needs to get our offense going a little bit to get our defense going."
The Irish proved that Saturday in defeating No. 4 West seed
But Brey remains confident, and he contends he was from the first
moment he saw the complete West bracket.
"When the bracket came out, I liked it," he said. "There
were a lot of basketball players in the bracket, not a lot of big bangers, the bulk we
have had trouble with. Before we even started
playing, I said ‘OK, those are teams we match-up with pretty good.'"
For their part, the players wanted