March 26, 2016
DATE/TIME: Sunday, March 27, 8:49 p.m.
VENUE: Wells Fargo Center (Capacity: 20,686)
CITY: Philadelphia, Pa.
TELEVISION: TBS. Brian Anderson (play-by-play), Steve Smith (analyst), Dana Jacobsen (sidelines)
NOTRE DAME RADIO NETWORK : Jack Nolan (play-by-play). Torrian Jones (analyst)
WESTWOOD ONE NATIONAL RADIO: Tom McCarthy (play-by-play) John Thompson (analyst).
Available on Sirius and XM Channel 84 and free online stream at www.ncaa.com/marchmadnesslive
2015 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP:
With three come-from-behind victories in the first three games of the NCAA Championship, the University of Notre Dame men’s basketball team has earned its second-consecutive trip to the Elite Eight. The sixth-seeded Irish will face #1 North Carolina, who defeated Indiana in the regional semifinals on Friday.
The Irish rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit vs. Michigan in the first round on Friday, March 18, led by a perfect seven-for-seven shooting performance for 18 points from junior forward V.J. Beachem. The 12-point rally marked Notre Dame’s largest deficit ever overcome in an NCAA tournament – and just the third time the Irish have rallied when trailing at halftime in the NCAA championship.
The second round brought red-hot #14 Stephen F. Austin as an opponent and the Irish battled the Lumberjacks back-and-forth for much of the contest. Notre Dame trailed by five points with 2:03 remaining, but a lay up by junior guard Demetrius Jackson, followed by two Jackson free throws set the stage for freshman Rex Pflueger’s tip in with 1.5 seconds remaining to push the Irish past SFA 76-75.
Notre Dame came from behind again in the regional semifinal matchup with sixth-seeded Wisconsin, scoring 42 points in the second half. Trailing by three with 27 seconds remaining, the Irish forced two consecutive turnovers (both steals by Demetrius Jackson) that led to a lay up and two free throws to push the Irish into the lead.
It is the 35th overall appearance by Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament and 17th since the field expanded to 64 in 1985. The spot is also the 11th earned in the Mike Brey era (start of the 2001 season) and eighth in the last 10 years. The Irish are coming off a historic run to the Elite Eight in last season’s tournament, knocking off #14 Northeastern, #6 Butler and #7 Wichita State before falling to #1 seed Kentucky by two points just one game away from the Final Four.
Historically, the Irish are 37-38 in NCAA Competition since participating in the tournament for the first time in 1953 and are 12-10 under Mike Brey. As a sixth-seeded team, the Irish are 4-3 in the tournament, with a victory over Xavier in 2001 along with last weekend’s two victories, and losses to #3 Mississippi in 2001, #11 Winthrop in 2007 and #11 Old Dominion in 2010.
IRISH AND TAR HEELS MEET AGAIN:
Notre Dame and North Carolina will meet for the third time this season in the East Regional Final on Sunday. The Irish defeated #2/1 North Carolina 80-76 on Feb. 16 at Purcell Pavilion, but fell 47-78 to the Tar Heels in the ACC semifinals.
In the Mike Brey Era (2000-16) the Irish have faced an opponent three times in a season just four times. In 2000-01, Notre Dame finished 2-1 vs. Pittsburgh, in 2003-04 1-2 vs. Connecticut, 2007-08 1-2 vs. Marquette and 2014-15 when the Irish ended up 2-1 against eventual National Champion Duke.
The Irish and Tar Heels have met previously in the NCAA Championship, with North Carolina claiming a victory in all three meetings (1977, 1985, 1987). In the 1985 contest, held in Notre Dame, Ind., the scored was tied at 58-58 with 10 seconds remaining when UNC’s Kenny Smith stole the ball and dunked on the final play of the game. Two years later, the Irish would avenge that loss at Notre Dame by the same score – 60-58.
ELITE EIGHT HISTORY:
The Irish have played in a regional final six times (1-5) and are making back-to-back Elite Eight appearances for the third time in program history (1953-54, 1978-79) but the first since the field expanded to 64 teams or more in 1985.
1953 – East Regional Final – Indiana 79, Notre Dame 66
1954 – East Regional Final – Penn State 71, Notre Dame 63
1958 – Mideast Regional Final – Kentucky 89, Notre Dame 56
1978 – Midwest Regional Final – Notre Dame 84, DePaul 64
1979 – Mideast Regional Final – Michigan State 80, Notre Dame 68
2015 – Midwest Regional Final – Kentucky 68, Notre Dame 66