With just five games to go, Notre Dame is tied for 1st place atop the ACC standings.

That outcome seemed inconceivable after the way Notre Dame began this season, but it’s exactly why coach Mike Brey is garnering support for ACC Coach of the Year.

On Friday night, ESPN college basketball analyst LaPhonso Ellis explained why he has Brey on the top of his ballot.

“It’s clearly Mike Brey,” Ellis said on ACC Network on Friday evening. “They started 4-5 … Everyone in South Bend panicking. And this is the team that I thought would be one of the top seven teams in the ACC this year because of all the experience that they brought back. And of course they went out and got a guy like Paul Atkinson, who’s been absolutely phenomenal.

“For Mike Brey, and this is perfectly Mike Brey, to hang in there with his guys, continue to encourage when it’s tough and have those guys respond the way that they have, and have the opportunity to actually win the ACC Championship in the regular season with this group … Incredible job by Mike Brey.”

Here’s video of Ellis’ comments:

If Brey does win the award, it would be his first in the ACC. He won Big East Coach of the Year in three separate seasons when Notre Dame was in that conference.

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Wake Forest’s Steve Forbes are also expected to receive serious consideration. Krzyzewski is in the final season of his career and Duke is also tied for first place in the league. Forbes’ Wake Forest team has vastly out-performed expectations for this season.

Notre Dame faces Wake Forest on Saturday.