Irish prepare to open ACC play against Miami

Let the great NCAA Tournament debate of 2018 start.

With one side looking to retain its conference title and the other on the verge of all but locking down an NCAA tournament spot, it's hard to argue that any other team in action Thursday will have more at stake than both the Blue Devils and Notre Dame. It climbed as high as No. 5 in December behind Preseason All-America Bonzie Colson. The Fighting Irish are averaging 8.7 three-pointers per game on 37.5% shooting from beyond the arc. He returned on the last day of February. It hasn't been easy but the Irish are still in it at Barclays Center, where they are 9-2 all-time.

Off the tip, passes were quick and crisp from both teams as they looked to push the tempo and play aggressively.

The 10-seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish improved to 20-13 (8-10 ACC) on the season after upsetting the 7-seed Virginia Tech Hokies, 71-65, to advance past the 2nd round of the New York Life ACC Men's Tournament. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said sarcastically in a press conference last week. Should I tell Louisville fans that they'd be in right now if they didn't blow a four-point lead with 0.9 seconds left?

With a winning record in the ACC and signature victories over Virginia, Duke, North Carolina and Clemson already on its resume, Virginia Tech went to Brooklyn feeling it had already done enough to secure an NCAA tournament berth. "I don't want to hear about the best 68". I think all the veterans have played really, really well and so, I mean, we kind of knew that we would have to be patient with this group, with as numerous young kids who are playing and pitching in particular, so we'll continue to be patient. I feel strongly we should be part of it. "You've got to make big players, and Matt (Farrell) and I and the group, we had to show that today".

Notre Dame and Virginia Tech played one of the weirdest postseason games of the year so far earlier this evening.

Virginia Tech's game plan was an obvious one.

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Colson made a banked-in 3-point basket for a 60-59 lead with two minutes to play to provide Notre Dame with its first lead since the opening minutes.

Notre Dame's 45-18 run in a pressure-packed Barclays Center on Wednesday night that capped a 71-65 comeback win was just the first miraculous finish of the next couple weeks, but for the squad that put the "fight" in Fighting Irish, it may be the most important one of the season.

"We disintegrated. We didn't guard".

"It's a learning experience" said Justin Robinson who also scored 15. "Just completely fell apart the last 15 minutes defensively". The Devils were down by 10 at halftime but outscored the Tar Heels 49-29 in the second half. Austin Torres set himself up to take a charge and Chris Clarke added a push to Farrell, resulting in a technical. As he protested, Farrell snatched the ball from his hands to take it out for the Irish.

"Every coach in the country thinks his team is a tournament team", Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "I think for-sure it shifted the momentum". "It's fine", said Colson. "The backboard is there for a reason". "I thought [junior infielder] Matt Vierling had a good weekend". "I shot it and looked it in, and it went in".

Farrell finished with 22 points, Rex Pflueger 14 points, T.J. Gibbs 13 points and Colson 12 points for Notre Dame, which shot 57 percent in the second half and was 19-for-23 on the free-throw line after the intermission. Justin Bibbs led Virginia Tech's team in scoring with 15 points, while shooting 6 of 14 (42.9%) from the field.

"They're just - all the stuff they've been through, they're such tough dudes, and tonight you saw it, the toughness of hanging on in there", said Brey.

  • Carlos Nash