Xavier Faces Notre Dame in First Round

After knocking off Dayton and Saint Louis in back-to-back games on their way to the Atlantic-10 Championship Game, Xavier saved itself the anxiety of watching the NCAA Selection Show without knowing whether or not its name would be called.

Just after 6 p.m. the Musketeers saw their name appear for the seventh straight year, while watching the announcement of the 2012 NCAA Tournament field together with fans who had made the trip to Atlantic City in the second floor of the Sheraton Hotel on the Boardwalk.

Xavier is headed to Greensboro, North Carolina as the 10 seed to play seventh-seeded Notre Dame on Friday night in the South Region.

If the Musketeers win their first round matchup, it would setup a likely second round game against Duke - the same team who bounced the Musketeers from the dance when they made their Elite Eight run in 2004.

Notre Dame struggled to start the season, as they finished their non-conference schedule just 9-6. The Irish hit their stride in Big East play though, posting a 13-5 record with wins over Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette, West Virginia (twice), and South Florida (Twice).

The Irish are led by a balanced attack on offense, featuring three players who average 12 points or more. Junior forward Jack Cooley (6-9, 248) provides production in the paint at 12.4 points per game.

The Irish are currently ranked 23 in the AP poll and 39 in the RPI.

This meeting will mark the third time Xavier has played Notre Dame in the postseason in the last 12 years. The two teams met in the NIT in 2000 and the NCAA Tournament in 2001, with the Irish winning both. The Musketeers are 3-15 all-time against Notre Dame.

They have three common opponents this season in Georgia, Gonzaga and Cincinnati. Xavier beat Georgia by 14 and Cincinnati by 23 but lost to Gonzaga by seven, while Notre Dame lost to Georgia, and then got hammered by Gonzaga and Cincinnati by a combined 36 points. All of those losses came before the Irish hit their stride in the second half of the year though.


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