The answer: yes. The NIT pairings were announced Sunday night, hours after the brackets for the NCAA Tournament were revealed. The Irish will host the Vanderbilt Commodores on Wednesday night at the Joyce Center. This is the third straight year that Notre Dame and head coach Mike Brey's squad has participated in this tournament. The Irish are seeded fourth in the Michigan bracket. The Wolverines are seeded first in this section and are the likely second round foe for Notre Dame.
First, Notre Dame will have to battle past Vanderbilt. The fifth-seeded Commodores finished the year 17-12 overall and 7-9 in the SEC Eastern Division. Their season ended on Friday when LSU rolled over them 92-73 in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Shan Foster, a 6'6" guard/forward, leads the team in scoring with a 16 PPG average. Derrick Byars, a 6'7" junior, contributes 12 PPG while DeMarre Carroll and Julian Terrell add 10 a contest. Terrell, a 6'9" senior, leads the team in rebounding (over seven a contest).
A surprise might have been the Irish getting the home contest over Vanderbilt. Notre Dame, a high-power name, could not move fans into seats last season during the post-season NIT when attendance was paltry at best for a loss to Holy Cross in the first round. Apparently, that did not sway NIT officials in giving the Irish another chance to pack the Joyce Center.
The tournament concludes on March 30th with the championship game played at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The semifinals are set for March 28th. The committee that selects the participating teams includes legendary North Carolina head coach Dean Smith and famed Kentucky athletic director C.M. Newton.