March 15, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. –
The Fighting Irish men’s hoopsters will play at home on St. Patrick’s Day (Tuesday) in the first round of the 32-team 2009 National Invitation Tournament – in their 10th straight overall postseason appearance, a Notre Dame record.
Mike Brey’s second-seeded Irish (18-14) take on seventh-seeded Alabama-Birmingham (22-11) March 17 in a first-round game at the Joyce Center in Notre Dame, Ind., based on NIT pairings released tonight. It’s the first-ever meeting between the Irish and the Blazers, who are coached by Mike Davis (former Indiana head coach). UAB finished third in Conference USA at 11-5 and has won 12 of its last 16 games. The Blazers fell to Tulsa 70-67 Friday in the Conference USA Tournament semifinals.
Tip-off is at 9:00 p.m. EDT — and the game will be televised live by ESPN2. Tickets go on sale at 8:30 a.m. EDT tomorrow (Monday). Call 574-631-7356, come to the Joyce Center Gate 1 Ticket Office (2nd floor) or go to www.und.com/tickets. Tickets are $33 (loge), $26 (lower arena) and $13 (bleachers). The first 500 students will be admitted to Gate 3 of the Joyce Center on game night – while additional student tickets are $5 with a valid Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, or Holy Cross College ID (in person or over the phone only). Service charges apply to phone and Internet sales.
First-round games are played on campus on March 17 and 18. Second-round games are on campus on March 19, 20, 21 and 23. Quarterfinal games are on campus on March 24 and 25. Semifinals are Tuesday, March 31, and the championship contest Thursday, April 2 – with both those sessions at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Notre Dame’s Joyce Center is reserved March 20-24 for NCAA Championships first- and second-round women’s basketball games.
If the Irish win, they would play a second-round game against the winner of the New Mexico (second seeded at 21-11)-Nebraska (sixth seeded at 18-12) contest to be played Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. EDT.
The number-one seed in Notre Dame’s eight-team bracket is Creighton (26-7). The other number-one seeds are San Diego State (23-9), Auburn (22-11) and Florida (23-10).
The Irish previously have made three NIT appearances in the Brey era. In 2006, the Irish defeated Vanderbilt 79-69 in the first round at the Joyce Center, then fell in a second-round game 87-84 to Michigan in double overtime in Ann Arbor. In 2005, the Irish lost 78-73 at home in the first round to Holy Cross. In 2004, Notre Dame defeated Purdue 71-59 in the first round at the Joyce Center, eliminated St. Louis 77-66 in the second round at the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., before dropping a quarterfinal game 65-61 to Oregon at the Joyce Center.
Notre Dame’s men are making their ninth postseason trip in the nine-season Mike Brey era and the 40th in school history (53-43 in all postseason contests: 30-33 record in 29 NCAA appearances, 23-10 in 10 NIT appearances). The Irish played in the NIT championship game in 1973 (lost to Virginia Tech), 1984 (lost to Michigan), 1992 (lost to Virginia) and 2000 (lost to Wake Forest) – and also made the NIT semifinals in 1968 (lost to Dayton).
Under Brey at Notre Dame, the Irish are 5-5 in the NCAA and 3-3 in the NIT, for an overall 8-8 postseason mark. Add Brey’s 0-1 NIT mark (2000) and 0-2 NCAA mark (’98 and ’99) from his years as head coach at Delaware, and Brey’s overall postseason record becomes 8-11 (5-7 NCAA, 3-4 NIT)
The Irish in ’09 are making their 10th straight postseason appearance (NCAA in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2008; NIT in 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2009). That’s the best streak in that category in Notre Dame history – and best since making nine straight from 1973 through 1981 (one NIT, then eight straight NCAA). A trio of all-Conference USA seniors — all career 1,000-point scorers — leads the way for UAB. Guard/forward Robert Vaden, a second-team all-league selection, averaged 17.5 points this season — while fellow second-team choice Paul Delaney III averaged 16.0 points per contest. Forward Lawrence Kinnard averaged 14.2 points and paced the team in rebounding at 9.0 boards. The Blazers will be making their 10th appearance in the NIT and will be playing in the tournament for the second consecutive season. Last year as a number-five seed, UAB reached the second round, knocking off VCU (80-77) on the road in first-round play before losing at Virginia Tech (75-49) in the second round.
UAB has reached the NIT Final Four on two occasions, both under coach Gene Bartow. In 1989, UAB advanced to the semifinals in New York where it lost to St. John’s (76-65) before coming back to defeat Michigan State (78-76) in the third-place game. The Blazers also reached the NIT semifinals in the 1993 tournament, falling to Georgetown (45-41). Again, UAB rebounded to win the third-place contest, defeating Providence by a 55-52 score. UAB has an all-time record in the NIT of 11-8. Playing on St. Patrick’s Day has created a 4-3 record in Notre Dame men’s basketball. Here’s when it has happened:
1973 W 69-65 vs. USC in NIT first round at MSG
1977 L 79-77 vs. #3 North Carolina in NCAA second round in College Park, Md.
1978 W 69-56 vs. #14 Utah in NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal in Lawrence, Kan.
1983 L 71-57 vs. Northwestern in NIT first round at Rosemont Horizon in Chicago
1988 L 83-75 vs. SMU in NCAA first round in Chapel Hill, N.C.
1989 W 81-65 vs. Vanderbilt in NCAA first round in Providence, N.C.
2004 W 71-59 vs. Purdue in NIT first round at Joyce Center
Here are complete first-round NIT pairings:
March 17 #5 UNLV (21-10) at #4 Kentucky (20-13), 9:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN
#6 Nebraska (18-12) at #3 New Mexico (21-11), 10 p.m. EDT on ESPNU
#7 UAB (22-11) at #2 Notre Dame (18-14), 9 p.m. EDT on ESPN2
#6 Rhode Island (22-10) at #3 Niagara (26-8)
#7 George Mason (22-10) at #2 Penn State (22-11), 8 p.m. on ESPNU
#8 Weber State (21-9) at #1 San Diego State (23-9)
#6 Davidson (26-7) at #3 South Carolina (21-9), 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN2
#7 Washington State (17-15) at #2 St. Mary’s (26-6), 11 p.m. EDT on ESPN2
#5 Illinois State (24-9) at #4 Kansas State (21-11)
#8 Tennessee-Martin (22-9) at #1 Auburn (22-11)
#5 Northwestern (17-13) at #4 Tulsa (24-10), 9 p.m. EDT on ESPNU
#6 Georgetown (16-14) at #3 Baylor (20-14), 9 p.m. EDT on ESPN2
#7 Duquesne (21-12) at #2 Virginia Tech (18-14), 7 p.m. EDT on ESPNU
#8 Bowling Green (1913) at #1 Creighton (26-7)
#8 Jacksonville (18-13) at #1 Florida (23-10)
#4 Miami, Fla. (18-12) at #5 Providence (19-13), 7 p.m. on ESPN2
Here are second-round matchups (to be played March 19, 20, 21 or 23):
Creighton/Bowling Green winner vs. Kentucky/UNLV winner
New Mexico/Nebraska winner vs. Notre Dame/UAB winner
Florida/Jacksonville winner vs. Miami/Providence winner
Niagara/Rhode Island winner vs. Penn State/George Mason winner
San Diego State/Weber State winner vs. Kansas State/Illinois State winner
South Carolina/Davidson winner vs. St. Mary’s/Washington State winner
Auburn/Tennessee-Martin winner vs. Tulsa/Northwestern winner
Baylor/Georgetown winner vs. Virginia Tech/Duquesne winner