Even with last night's loss at West Virginia, there have not been many adjustments to the goals of Notre Dame's basketball team.
"You're trying to get a split out of the week. You're trying to scratch your way to the end of the Big East regular season and see if you can get out of this week 1-1," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. "Every league game now there's a lot riding on it when you're in the position we're in, there's no question about it."
Next up for the Irish (14-11, 5-8) is a game at Providence (16-10, 8-6) on Saturday afternoon. Notre Dame got off to a great start against the Mountaineers, making 10 of their first 12 shots, and despite an increase of pressure with each passing game, Brey wants to see the same early effort on Saturday.
"You can't have your guys tied up in knots," he said. "I thought we came out of the gate loose and ready to play and I hope we can get off to the same start against Providence."
With five games remaining, Brey still feels that there is time for his team to make the end of the season entertaining before the Big East Conference Tournament.
"Just kind of scratch your way and see what happens," he said. "There's still a lot of basketball here in this Big East regular season where we can make it interesting and maybe get some momentum before we head to New York City. I think that's realistically how you look at it."
Brey still believes that a 9-9 mark in the league should be enough to get the Irish into the NCAA Tournament discussion.
".500 in our league this year I think is a pretty darn good record. I don't think anybody outside would really argue that especially if you played the A schedule, the TV schedule that we played," he said. "We're going to have to really dig to get to that, but I don't think anyone would argue that a .500 record in the Big East this year is a very respectable worthy record."
Brey elaborated on his contention that not all conference schedules were created equal.
"Now there's different 9-9s in our league, that's the thing. Like a 9-9 playing the A/TV schedule is maybe different than [another] 9-9 and that's the pressure on the committee now," he said. "We're not the only league to do it, just about everybody else has an unbalanced schedule. The committee then has to look and say strength of league schedule, not just strength of non-league schedule."
The Irish have definitely played one of the toughest league schedules and with five games remaining, Notre Dame needs four wins to finish conference play 9-9.
Following the game at Providence, the Irish have a home game with Rutgers (10-15, 1-11) and a road game at Connecticut (24-2, 12-2) before wrapping up with a pair of games at the Joyce against Villanova (20-5, 8-4) and St. John's (12-13, 3-10).
If the Irish lose to either the Scarlet Knights or the Red Storm, they can forget about a NCAA Tournament bid without a serious run in the conference tourney.
If Notre Dame is able to take care of Rutgers and St. John's then the Irish will need to win two of the remaining three against the Friars, Huskies and Wildcats. That would require a road win in the league, something Notre Dame has not done since the conference opener against DePaul on New Year's Eve.
If they were selected to the Tournament, Notre Dame would be one of the last teams from the Big East to get in. Brey said that he believes the committee when it says that it does not care how many teams from a conference get invited, but added that he did not want to get ahead of himself.
"I take them at their word when they say that. Talking about the NCAA Tournament seems a little far-fetched for us right now, we're just trying to get a road league win," he said. "But if you look there's been teams that have been 7-9 or under .500 that have gotten bids lately out of really good leagues. But I don't think there is any question, I don't think anyone would argue a 9-9 regular season record in our league."
Brey still believes that his team is in charge of the way it finishes this season.
"We still have a bunch of games here to play," he said. "You're 5-8 in the league, you can still finish with some momentum and that's really how we've looked at it."