Feb. 14, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Now is the time to buckle down.
At least that is what Irish head coach Matt Doherty is thinking. His team currently still has a chance at receiving a bid for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1990.
After securing a sweep of Connecticut on Saturday, Notre Dame kept alive its hopes of a NCAA tournament bid.
“After the Pennsylvania trip, it was not very bright,” Doherty said. “You are talking about a tough trip. Coming out of a tough trip, we were in a good position for the NCAA Tournament, hopefully, we can put ourselves back in position. This is a step in the right direction.”
Doherty recognized how big Saturday’s 68-66 upset win over Connecticut was.
The Irish have exactly five games left in their regular season. Three of the games are on the road against the likes of Seton Hall, Miami and Georgetown. Notre Dame will play host to Providence as well as Syracuse.
If Doherty’s squad can manage at least three more wins in the regular season, followed up by a strong showing in the tournament, then there is a chance that the team could make it.
Currently, the squad’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) stands at No. 50. The RPI is a major factor with NCAA bids. The rankings help the NCAA decide at-large bids as well as rank the teams within the brackets.
Of Notre Dame’s remaining opponents Syracuse has the highest RPI at 10 while Providence ranks as low as 176.
Notre Dame has been virtually unbeatable at home this season. The team’s record stands at 13-2 in the Joyce Center. Where the question lies is with the team’s play on the road. Doherty’s troops must win a couple on the road where the team is in the midst of a losing streak.
The Irish are 4-1 on the road in Big East play. The team’s last win came against the Huskies back on Jan. 5.
This is crunch time for the Irish. Notre Dame recognized that its back was against the wall.
“When we come out with our backs against the wall, we play a lot better,” sophomore Troy Murphy said. “It is frustrating sometimes to come out and not perform well.”
The sophomore and his team realize that these final games are crunch time and that they must perform no matter what in order to make it to the tournament.