Fifth-seeded Notre Dame, led by BIG EAST Player of the Year Luke Harangody, will face No. 12 seed George Mason in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in Denver.

Irish To Face George Mason In First Round Of NCAA Tournament

March 16, 2008

• Tournament Central
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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s hoopsters are headed to Denver.

Mike Brey’s Irish (24-7) have won as many games heading into the NCAA Tournament as any team in Notre Dame history. Digger Phelps’ 1974 team took a 24-2 record into NCAA play, and Brey’s team a year ago in ’07 also stood 24-7 at this same point.

Notre Dame’s men’s basketball team, seeded fifth in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament, takes on 12th-seed George Mason (23-10 and the Colonial Athletic Association champion) next Thursday (March 20) in a first-round game in Denver, Colo., at the Pepsi Center (capacity 18,798), based on NCAA pairings released Sunday night. If Notre Dame advances, the Irish Saturday would take on the Washington State (fourth seed at 24-8)-Winthrop (13th seed at 22-11) winner in a second-round matchup.

The Washington State-Winthrop first-round game will tip off at 5:20 p.m. MT (7:20 p.m. ET in South Bend), with the Notre Dame-George Mason contest slated to start 30 minutes following the conclusion of the preceding game.

The East Region second-round game in Denver will be played Saturday at either 4:40 p.m. MT (6:40 p.m. ET) or 7:10 p.m. MT (9:10 p.m. ET) with the final tip times determined by the tournament’s television partner, CBS Sports, which broadcasts all NCAA men’s tournament games live.

The other games played in Denver feed into the South Region: fourth-seeded Pittsburgh (26-9) vs. 13th seed Oral Roberts (24-8) and fifth-seeded Michigan State (25-8) vs. #12 Temple (21-12). The top five seeds in the East are #1 North Carolina (32-2), #2 Tennessee (29-4), #3 Louisville (24-8), #4 Washington State and #5 Notre Dame.

The Irish previously have made four NCAA appearances in the Brey era. In 2007, the sixth-seeded Irish dropped a first-round Midwest Region game in Spokane to 11th-seeded Winthrop. In 2003, the fifth-seeded Irish defeated Wisconsin-Milwaukee in an NCAA first-round game and fourth-seeded Illinois in a second-round matchup (both in Indianapolis) before falling in a West Regional semifinal to top-seeded Arizona in Anaheim, Calif. In 2002, the eighth-seeded Irish men defeated Charlotte in the first round in Greenville, S.C., before falling to top-seeded Duke in the second round. In 2001, sixth-seeded Notre Dame defeated Xavier in the first round in Kansas City, Mo., before dropping a second-round game to third-seeded Ole Miss.

Notre Dame’s men are making their fifth NCAA visit in the eight-season Mike Brey era and the 29th in school history (29-32 record). The Irish played in the NCAA Final Four 30 seasons ago in 1978.

The Irish are making their ninth straight postseason appearance (NIT in 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2006). That’s the best streak in that category since making nine straight from 1973 through 1981 (one NIT, then eight straight NCAA).

Notre Dame receives a very limited allotment of tickets for the NCAA men’s games in Denver, and there is no anticipation of any public sale. The Denver games already are listed as sellouts.

— ND —