Matt Cashore / IrishIllustrated.com

Irish Land No. 3 Spot In ACC Tourney

Mike Brey has led 10 of his 17 teams at Notre Dame to a top four finish in the Big East and/or Atlantic Coast Conference.

For the third straight season and sixth time in the last eight, Notre Dame is headed to the conference tournament with a double-bye.

The Irish, who fell at Louisville Saturday to conclude the regular season at 23-8 overall and 12-6 in the conference, open ACC tournament play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn Thursday night in the late game slated for a 9:00 p.m. ET tipoff.

Notre Dame will play the winner of No. 6 Virginia vs. the winner of No. 11 Georgia Tech/No. 14 Pittsburgh. The Yellow Jackets and Panthers square off Tuesday with the winner taking on the Cavaliers Wednesday.

Irish head coach Mike Brey has now finished in the top four of Big East and/or ACC play 10 out of 17 seasons. Each of the previous five times Notre Dame has earned a double-bye under Brey, the Irish have advanced to the conference tournament semifinals.

If the Cavaliers win their opener Wednesday, head coach Tony Bennett enters Thursday’s clash with a history of nothing but success against Mike Brey-coached teams.

Bennett’s Washington State squad defeated Brey’s Irish by 20 in the 2008 NCAA tournament and has won all five meetings since the Irish moved to the ACC four seasons ago.

Virginia handed Notre Dame one of two home losses this season when the Cavaliers pulled away in the second half to claim a 71-54 victory on Jan. 24. It was Notre Dame’s largest margin of defeat in the regular season and the first of a four-game losing streak.

After falling to 6-5 in ACC play, the Irish won six in a row before losing at Louisville, 71-64 Saturday.

Should the Irish advance to the conference semifinals, they would take on one of four teams – No. 2 seed Florida State, No. 7 seed Virginia Tech, No. 10 seed Wake Forest or No. 15 seed Boston College.

Notre Dame split with the Seminoles in 2016-17, falling on the road the third week of January in Tallahassee, 83-80, and then evening the score three weeks later at Purcell Pavilion, 84-72.

Last year in Washington D.C. as the No. 4 seed, the Irish defeated No. 5 seed Duke in overtime before falling decisively to No. 1 seed North Carolina in the semifinals.

Two years ago in Greensboro, N.C. as the No. 3 seed, Notre Dame knocked off No. 6 Miami, No. 2 Duke and No. 5 North Carolina to win the ACC championship in just its second season in the conference.


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