Building Notre Dame's path to the NCAA Tournament
Notre Dame basketball has won eight of nine games, but is currently on the outside-looking-in according to most bracketologists.
The Fighting Irish have 12-6 overall record and have started out 5-2 in ACC play, but a rough stretch in nonconference play is hurting their résumé as the calendar marches toward the postseason.
Notre Dame only has one bad loss so far — an away defeat vs. Boston College back in December. But it only has one significant nonconference win, too. That came against Kentucky just eight days after its loss to the Eagles.
Other nonconference losses to Saint Mary’s, Texas A&M, Illinois and Indiana represent missed opportunities for the Irish to put another marquee win on their résumé.
Now, Notre Dame finds itself in a position where it will need to make up for those losses in ACC play. Fortunately, there are still a few remaining opportunities to do so.
Here’s Notre Dame’s remaining schedule, along with their opponent’s KenPom ranking as of Jan. 23:
- Jan. 26: vs. No. 99 NC State
- Jan. 29: vs. No. 93 Virginia
- Jan. 31: vs No. 10 Duke
- Feb. 2: at No. 62 Miami
- Feb. 5: at No. 99 NC State
- Feb. 9: vs. No. 108 Louisville
- Feb. 12: at No. 64 Clemson
- Feb. 16: vs. No. 132 Boston College
- Feb. 19: at No. 34 Wake Forest
- Feb. 22: vs. No. 83 Syracuse
- Feb. 26: vs. No. 138 Georgia Tech
- March 2: at No. 55 Florida State
- March 5: vs. No. 196 Pittsburgh
The games that stand are vs. the teams at the top of the ACC standings: Duke, Miami, Wake Forest and Florida State. Unfortunately three of those four contests come on the road, which will make this an uphill battle for Notre Dame.
KenPom is currently projecting Notre Dame to lose all four of those games. Mike Brey’s squad would likely need to win at least two of them in order to get into contention for an NCAA Tournament berth.
There’s also road games at NC State and Clemson that could prove to be tough. KenPom is projecting a one-point win over the Wolfpack but a loss to the Tigers in those road matchups. A sweep would put Notre Dame in a much better position.
And then, of course, there’s the matter of six other home games — plus the matchup vs. Duke in South Bend — that Notre Dame can’t afford to lose if it wants an at-large berth in the Big Dance. KenPom is projecting a loss to the Blue Devils but a win in all other remaining home games this season.
If Notre Dame checks all those boxes, it would finish the regular season at 23-8 overall and 16-4 in ACC play. That would almost certainly be enough to make the Field of 68, even with Notre Dame’s lackluster nonconference résumé.
Notre Dame will play again on NC State at home.