Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said he felt his guys were over the disappointment of not making the NCAA Tournament field during Monday's practice. The Bulldogs responded by going undefeated in the regular season and took a 32-0 mark into the SEC Tournament final, where they were dashed once again by the Gamecocks. Last season, UConn came into the NCAAs as the overwhelming favorite before losing to Mississippi State in the Final Four.
Irish senior forward Martinas Geben goes up over a Hampton defender in Notre Dame's 84-63 win over the Pirates in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday at Purcell Pavilion.
"They're better at saying they're prepared", coach Geno Auriemma said. While many pundits will claim you should listen to their insider experience to win your March Madness pool, with so many teams from completely different parts of the country coming together for a single elimination tournament, the results are often a crapshoot at best.
After falling to SC in the national championship a year ago, the Bulldogs won their first 32 games of the season to earn a No. 1 seed in the Kansas City region. The Norse made the NCAA tournament a year ago and only lost to No. 2 seed Kentucky 79-70.
"We wouldn't be in that kind of position if we didn't have a great year and we hope to keep that going", OR coach Kelly Graves said.
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The Ducks potentially could stay out west and play in Spokane, where Graves spent many years as Gonzaga's coach.
NCAA Tournament, first round, Arizona State vs. Syracuse, in Dayton, Ohio, TruTv, 8 p.m.
"I'm really proud of this group", Brey said. "Who else is in, South Dakota State?".
Oklahoma got in with a 16-14 record - the fewest wins for an at-large team since 2005. Regional action will take place March 23-26, with Kansas City, Missouri, (Sprint Center) and Lexington, Kentucky, (Rupp Arena) hosting on March 23 and 25, while Albany, New York, (Times Union Center) and Spokane, Washington, (Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena) will host regional games on March 24 and 26. Also in the Starkville subregional are 8-seed Syracuse and 9-seed Oklahoma State.
The Irish extended the lead in the second quarter thanks to sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs shooting 2-of-2 from behind the NIT tournament's extended 3-point line - one of the unique rule changes, much like the division of the game into 10-minute quarters instead of 20-minute halves, that the NCAA instituted for the tournament.
Marquette hopes to avenge last year's team, which lost 68-65 against Quinnipiac in the tournament's first round after entering the tournament with a five-seed, the highest in program history. Still, the Norse are a solid team and winners of 22 games.