Mission Impossible?

The goal all season has been not to worry about the NCAA Tournament. Whether that's right or wrong, the Notre Dame men's basketball team has aimed just to reach the Big East Tournament because the bottom four teams in the 16-team league do not get an invitation to New York City. A 102-91 win over Seton Hall on the road Saturday night put the Irish back in position to achieve this goal.

If the season ended today, the Irish would be invited to the conference tournament. The bad news: after getting into the top-12 with three straight league wins, Notre Dame goes on the road to take on fourth-ranked Connecticut. Tip-off on Tuesday is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and ESPN Plus will carry the game on television. Notre Dame sits at 13-10 overall and 4-8 in the Big East, tied for 12th place in the conference. The Irish hold the advantage over Providence, also at 4-8 in the league, because of a 92-77 win earlier in regular season.

A stellar offensive output by Notre Dame against Seton Hall continued the winning ways of a team that could be finally finding their stride. Chris Quinn led the Irish with 34 points, including 14-of-14 from the free throw line. For the game, Notre Dame shot 33-of-38 from the charity stripe. Maybe more impressive than Quinn's performance was the game Colin Falls had. The junior sharpshooter was coming off of a 1-for-10 shooting night in the Irish's 90-63 win over South Florida. Falls rebounded in big fashion, hitting eight three-pointers and notching a season-high 32 points. One thing is for sure: this Notre Dame team can put the ball in the basket. In Big East play, the Irish are 1st in scoring offense at over 80 points a contest.

Second on that list is Connecticut. The pure talent level that head coach Jim Calhoun has amassed in Storrs might be the best in the nation. The Hall of Fame coach has one of the top performers in the league in Rudy Gay. The athletic sophomore forward can do it all and could be a top-5 pick next year in the NBA Draft if he declares. Gay, who stands at 6'9", leads the Huskies in scoring, piling up 16 PPG. He also is tied for the team lead in rebounds at just under seven a contest.

Gay is not the only reason UCONN is 23-2 on the season and 10-2 in the Big East, only a game back of Villanova (11-1) for the league lead. Junior point guard Marcus Williams is the conductor that makes this talented Husky team flow. Williams dishes out eight assists a game, which is tops in the conference, and also contributes 10 PPG. Senior Rashad Anderson is usually the first player off Calhoun's deep bench but his 13 PPG average is good for second on the team. The trees down low will make Irish center Torin Francis's job extremely difficult. Just ask West Virginia, who saw UCONN dominate in the paint area. Josh Boone and Hilton Armstrong both stand over 6'10"and rank in the top five in blocked shots. They combine with others to make the Huskies the top rebounding team in the Big East.

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