Once again, UND.com will be blogging from the 2010 BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Championship, which runs from March 9-13 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Please check back for frequent updates (posts will be in reverse chronological order) on the men’s basketball team’s visit to the Big Apple.

Friday, March 12 – 11:45 p.m.

The Irish nearly pull it off, coming back from 10 down. Butler ends up with 24 points and Kevin Jones is the only other player in double figures with 10 for West Virginia. The Mountaineers hold a big 37-22 rebound edge. Hansbrough ends with 17 points, Harangody with 10. The Irish hit .341 from the floor, compared to .488 for West Virginia. From three-point distance, Notre Dame is seven of 22, West Virginia three of 19. And after their best-ever showing in the BIG EAST Basketball Championships, the Irish head home at 9:00 Saturday morning to await the NCAA bracket announcement on Sunday night

Friday, March 12 – 11:35 p.m.
At 1:35 Hansbrough notches a layup for 52-49 West Virginia and Brey calls a quick 30. At :47.4 Hansbrough hits two free throws to make it 53-51. Then West Virginia, with the ball, calls a 30 at :37.3 (12-second difference between game and shot clock). Jackson misses a three in the waning seconds and the Irish fall 53-51.

Friday, March 12 – 11:28 p.m.

West Virginia commits an offensive foul – and coming out of the 2:59 timeout the Irish have the ball and a chance to tie. At 2:58 Jackson hits two free throws to cut it to one at 48-47.

Friday, March 12 – 11:25 p.m.
At the final media break at 3:32, the Irish trail just 48-45 after two straight long-distance connections by Hansbrough.

Friday, March 12 – 11:14 p.m.
Another timeout – and another $10,000 winner in the New York Life contest.

Friday, March 12 – 10:53 p.m.
The Irish try a zone defense, pick up a quick steal, then see Butler solve the zone for a three and a 32-26 advantage for West Virginia. Butler lands another hoop and he’s got 18 points. A rebound goal gives the Mountaineers their biggest lead at 36-28 – and a Butler three from the corner makes it 39-30 with 12 minutes to go (he has 10 of West Virginia’s first 16 this half). The Irish are in the bonus at the 10:50 mark while committing only two fouls themselves.

Friday, March 12 – 10:41 p.m.
Harangody plays 10 first-half minutes and hits his only shot, a three. Da’Sean Butler has 11 of West Virginia’s 23 first-half points and its first hoop after the break. West Virginia finally shoots its first free throws at the 18:29 mark (and misses both). A Scott three ties it at 23, but then the Mountaineers reel off three consecutive buckets and Mike Brey calls timeout at 16:56.

Friday, March 12 – 10:35 p.m.
There isn’t much new to discuss in terms of strategy. With three minutes left in halftime, Mike Brey sits in his seat on the bench, watching his players warm up again, while West Virginia has yet to take the floor.

Friday, March 12 – 10:28 p.m.
The Irish shooting is nowhere near what it was the last two nights – at .348 (eight of 23) compared to .478 (11 of 23) for West Virginia. Hansbrough leads the Irish with six points, Nash has three. West Virginia has a 17-11 lead on the boards. The Irish turn the ball over only once, and West Virginia three times. Neither team makes a free throw in the first half – and the only attempt is by Nash. West Virginia is one of nine on threes, the Irish four of 15.

Friday, March 12 – 10:22 p.m.
After a first half that takes only 41 minutes to play, the Irish trail 23-20 – and Brey’s crew needs to find a way to establish a comfort range on offense, with West Virginia seemingly making it more frantic when Notre Dame has the ball. Hansbrough lands a bomb at the buzzer that doesn’t count because it doesn’t get off in time. The officials check the TV monitors and wave it off.

Friday, March 12 – 10:12 p.m.
West Virginia moves it to 21-15 on successive lay-ins and Mike Brey calls a 30-second timeout. At the last media break at 1:48 it’s 23-17 for the Mountaineers.

Friday, March 12 – 10:03 p.m.
West Virginia is up 14-12 at the third media break at 7:06 — with the Irish shooting only five of 16 from the floor. While Seton Hall and Pittsburgh were content to let the Irish run the clock on offense, the Mountaineers are playing much more aggressive defensively – and the Irish are having a harder time manufacturing the shots they want.

Friday, March 12 – 10:00 p.m.
West Virginia takes a lead, but Luke Harangody gets it back on a three. The Mountaineers try a half-court zone press on defense.

Friday, March 12 – 9:50 p.m.
At the first media timeout at 12:09 the Irish lead 9-6 on a couple of Ty Nash hoops and a Tory Jackson long-range three. And it could have been better after Carleton Scott’s three rims around and out, Ben Hansbrough can’t connect on a fast-break reverse lay-up attempt – and then Hansbrough misses a short jumper that falls off the rim.

Friday, March 12 – 9:41 p.m.
It’s going to be a late night at MSG based on this Notre Dame-West Virginia tip time.

Friday, March 12 – 8:45 p.m.

With 6:37 left in the Georgetown-Marquette game (and the Hoyas up by 13), a young male fan during a timeout wins $10,000 from BIG EAST sponsor New York Life by rolling three cubes and having all three land with the same side up. And the crowd goes nuts.

Friday, March 12 – 8:35 p.m.

Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology on ESPN.com – and updated through this afternoon’s games – now has Notre Dame as a #7 NCAA seed in Milwaukee playing #10 Saint Mary’s. By comparison, Lunardi’s other #7 seeds are Texas, Gonzaga and California.

Friday, March 12 – 8:15 p.m.
Tory Jackson has now played in more games (135 including tonight) than any other Notre Dame basketball player in history.

The current Irish senior class already has won 93 combined games – best ever at Notre Dame.

Notre Dame already this year has played seven ranked opponents (4-3), so West Virginia marks the eighth. The Irish are 1-1 in previous BIG EAST Tournament meetings with West Virginia.

West Virginia assistant coach Billy Hahn is a former player at Penn High School in the South Bend area.

Friday, March 12 – 8:00 p.m.
The Irish board the bus at their team hotel to head across Manhattan to MSG.

Friday, March 12 – 7:45 p.m.
The last time the Irish played in the BIG EAST semifinals was in ’07 when Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson were freshmen. In that two-point loss to Georgetown, Harangody had 11 points and two rebounds, and Jackson had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Friday, March 12 – 7:15 p.m.
Irish assistants Martin Ingelsby and Rod Balanis sit courtside for the Georgetown-Marquette clash – in hopes of gleaning a few tidbits of useful information they’ll have a chance to put to use in 24 hours.

Friday, March 12 – 6:45 p.m.
Not many people at MSG 10 minutes before the start of Georgetown-Marquette, but the arena fills quickly — and one who makes the scene is Spike Lee.

Friday, March 12 – 11:15 a.m.
So how does this current BIG EAST run measure up? Throw in the final four league wins in the regular season, plus New York-based victories over Seton Hall and Pitt the last two nights and you’ve got six straight victories over BIG EAST opponents. The last time that happened was 2006-07 when the Irish won the last five of the regular season and then defeated Syracuse in the BIG EAST quarterfinals. The last time the Irish had more than six straight came in Mike Brey’s first season in 2000-01 when Notre Dame won eight straight BIG EAST games from Jan. 16 through Feb. 14 (including vs. #8 Syracuse and #10 Georgetown in that stretch).

Friday, March 12 – 10:00 a.m.
A rainy, drearier and chillier day in the big city, but don’t expect that to dampen any Notre Dame spirits. The Irish are alive and well and have now beaten three ranked opponents in the last 15 days. Pitt last night suffered only its second loss in its last 10 games – both of those coming to Notre Dame.

Tickets are always a scramble in this event. There’s never a public sale, so there are always all kinds of people looking for a connection. Schools that win find more tickets from schools that lose and need to dump what they have left, so there are lots of late-night transactions. In fact, last night, Irish ticket boss Josh Berlo had to wait until almost midnight (after the West Virginia-Cincinnati game ended) to receive the Notre Dame allotment of tickets for tonight’s semifinal session because the locations are based on seeding.

The lead of the New York Post story this morning says, “Notre Dame came to New York this week on the NCAA Tournament bubble. The Fighting Irish could leave Big East Tournament champions.” The story later says, “With traditional powers Syracuse, Villanova and Pittsburgh all bowing out, the tournament feels more like the Big Midwest than the Big East. Georgetown is the only team remaining that has won a Big East Tournament.”

Notre Dame’s bus driver was none to happy last night when he couldn’t get his vehicle as close to MSG as he had hoped – and he wasn’t afraid to let the driver of the vehicle in his way know it. The two drivers emerged and exchanged heated words that almost turned into a physical encounter. Mike Brey just shrugged, looked back at his players, and said, “That’s BIG EAST basketball.”

Not sure if last night’s win over Pitt was taken into account, but USA Today’s Marlen Garcia today predicts the Irish as a #9 seed against #8 Florida State in Milwaukee (#1 Kentucky is in the opposite bracket).

Most of former Irish player Zach Hillesland’s BIG EAST blogging for the New York Times appears on-line (in fact his main assignment is the day games, because that’s when more people are using their computers) – but Hillesland has a by-line story in today’s Times print edition.

In his piece, Hillesland talks about the injury yesterday to Syracuse’s Arinze Onuaku based on his own experience playing for two years against the Orange big man. Meanwhile, the Times’ Pete Thamel describes the new Irish style as “first-to-50 wins.”

CBS Sports on-line bracket expert Jerry Palm, as of this morning, has the Irish a #9 seed in Milwaukee to meet #8 UNLV.

The SI.com bracket projection by Andy Glockner (before Thursday night’s game) had Notre Dame a #9 in Milwaukee playing #8 Missouri.

Thursday, March 11 – 9:45 p.m.
So this marks the third time the Irish have played in the BIG EAST semifinals – also in 2002 as the #2 West seed (L 82-77 to eventual champion Connecticut) and in 2007 as the #4 seed (L 84-82 to #1 seed and eventual champion Georgetown).

This marks the first time Notre Dame has won as many as two games in a single BIG EAST Tournament.

Thursday, March 11 – 9:30 p.m.
Nash hits all three of his shots and Scott does the same. Harangody and Jackson finish with 12 points each. Pitt leads in rebounds 27-22. The Irish finish .529 in field goals. Pitt scores only 16 second-half points and makes only six of 20 shots in the second half. Pitt finishes .386 from the floor.

Stopping to chat with Clinton is Denzel Washington. After the game the BIG EAST athletic directors (including Jack Swarbrick) and presidents meet Clinton, who takes home a couple of Notre Dame shirts.

Thursday, March 11 – 8:53 p.m.

With a 47-45 advantage, Brey calls a full timeout. Out of that, he calls another timeout at 1:18. But Harangody travels at 1:10 – and Dixon calls a Pitt timeout at 1:03. Harangody gets a rebound at :15.9 and is fouled (hits two). And the Irish call a 30-second timeout. And it ends 50-45 for Notre Dame.

Thursday, March 11 – 8:50 p.m.

Mike Brey calls a 30-second timeout at 2:07 with his team leading 46-43 and possessing the ball. And out of that Harangody is fouled (hits one).

Thursday, March 11 – 8:40 p.m.

It looks like Pitt is gaining momentum, but a Nash dunk off a great pass from Scott at 5:20 makes it 43-39 Irish and forces Dixon to call another Pittsburgh timeout.

Thursday, March 11 – 8:32 p.m.
Former President Bill Clinton is a spectator at MSG tonight, sitting five rows behind the scorer’s table with BIG EAST commissioner John Marinatto. He arrives with eight minutes left in the game.

Thursday, March 11 – 8:15 p.m.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon calls a timeout after a Tim Abromaitis short jumper makes it 38-33 Irish at 14:24. And it’s still 38-35 Notre Dame at the next media break at 11:35.

Thursday, March 11 – 7:58 p.m.
The Irish hit 13 of 21 shots in the first half for a .619 mark (.486 for Pitt). The Irish have only three turnovers (five for Pitt). The Panthers have a 14-9 rebounding edge. Jackson has nine points for the Irish, Harangody seven Carleton Scott six. Nash has six assists.

Thursday, March 11 – 7:44 p.m.

Pitt ties it at 27 with a free throw at 1:29. A Harangody bucket and a late Tory Jackson three make it 32-29 for the Irish at the break.

Thursday, March 11 – 7:33 p.m.
Luke Harangody’s reverse lay-in and three-pointer help keep the Panthers at bay – but Mike Brey calls a 30-second timeout at 5:14 after Pitt closes to within 22-21. And a Ben Hansbrough three makes it 25-21 going into the final media timeout at 3:40.

Thursday, March 11 – 7:11 p.m.

Here’s one reason Pitt is this event’s #2 seed – the Panthers have lost only once in their last nine outings, and that came at Notre Dame Feb. 24 (68-53 Irish).

Good start for the Irish. It’s 9-4 at first TV timeout at 15:46, with Ty Nash at the line for two free throws (makes one). Pitt has to call a timeout after it goes to 12-4 at 14:48.

Thursday, March 11 – 5:30 p.m.

So it’s already been a decidedly bad day for higher-seeded teams – with two top-10 BIG EAST powers, Syracuse and Villanova, dumped into the one-and-done pile.Eighth-seeded Georgetown won its second game in as many days by beating the top-seeded Orange 91-84 – then #5 seed Marquette followed that up by dispatching #4 seed (and 10th-ranked) Villanova 80-76.

The #7 seed Irish will see if they can continue that trend to start the evening session against the tourney’s #2 seed (and 16th-ranked) Pittsburgh, a team they defeated in South Bend exactly 15 days ago.

The Garden was packed and abuzz today for the noon start of the old-school BIG EAST rivalry between #22-ranked Georgetown and #3-ranked Syracuse. We’ll see if that trend, too, continues tonight.

If you believe Joe Lunardi and ESPN’s Bracketology, last night’s Notre Dame win over Seton Hall was worth three NCAA seeds. Before the BIG EAST Tourney began, Lunardi had the Irish as a #12 seed playing #5 Temple in San Jose. By this afternoon, Lunardi had the Irish a #9 facing #8 Florida State in Milwaukee.

Thursday, March 11 – 8:00 a.m.

Here’s what the morning papers say about the Irish:

— The New York Post headline reads, “That’s Hall, Folks.” And also, “Harangody’s return pops Pirates’ bubble.” Meanwhile, lots more spaced in the print edition is devoted to the prospect that St. John’s coach Norm Roberts is out after yesterday’s loss to Marquette – with former Irish assistant Fran McCaffery (now at Siena and in the NCAAs again this year) could be a candidate

— In the New York Daily News, the headline reads: “Gonzalez: Don’t burst Hall bubble.” The game story suggests “everything is falling into place” for the Irish who are a “virtual lock for the NCAA.”

— The New York Times’ sub-head reads, “Irish Makeover Looks Good.”

Sagarin ratings prior to Note Dame’s win over Seton Hall had the Irish 44th, including a 62nd strength of schedule ranking.

Wednesday, March 10 – 9:15 p.m.

Former Irish football standout Justin Tuck and current New York Giant star (also a new father) stops by the Irish locker room to say hello.

Also stopping for a visit is an old friend of Mike Brey’s, New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

The Irish hit 69.6 percent of their field goals n the second half (16 of 23). Harangody has 20 points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes. Jackson has 13 points and six assists. Seton Hall finishes .345 from the floor, with Hazell five of 16. Notre Dame wins the rebound battle 40-30 – and the Irish have 28 combined points after half from the trio of Jackson, Scott and Hansbrough (after none in first half).

Wednesday, March 10 – 8:55 p.m.

It hasn’t been easy often for the Irish in this event – so this becomes the first time Notre Dame has won at least one game in two straight BIG EAST Tournaments.

Wednesday, March 10 – 8:41 p.m.

Two savvy, end-of-shot clock hoops by Jackson make it 58-44 for the Irish at the final media break at the 3:19 juncture.

Wednesday, March 10 – 8:24 p.m.

Seated right behind the Irish bench is former Notre Dame player Rick Cornett.

Wednesday, March 10 – 8:20 p.m.

Hansbrough hits a three — then drives for a layup to make it 44-28 and Seton Hall has to call another timeout.

Wednesday, March 10 – 8:17 p.m.

Harangody picks up his third foul on a loose ball and exits in favor of Scott.

Wednesday, March 10 – 8:07 p.m.

Notre Dame scores the first seven points of the second half and Seton Hall has to call a timeout. It’s 35-21 Irish at the 17:42 stoppage.

Wednesday, March 10 – 7:54 p.m.

The halftime box says Seton Hall shoots 28.6 percent in the first half on eight of 28 (maybe the Pirates really are tired from last night). Notre Dame has a 25-16 edge in rebounding and super-sub Harangody has hit seven of 11 shots and has 15 points. Peoples plays four minutes off the bench and has four points. The Irish are up seven at half even though Jackson, Scott and Ben Hansbrough are a collective zero for nine from the field and have zero combined points.

Wednesday, March 10 – 7:47 p.m.

Irish lead 28-21 at the break – compared to last night when Seton Hall had 55 points at halftime. If the final score is anything about imposing your style on the other team, the Irish are ahead.

Wednesday, March 10 – 7:44 p.m.

Even with the slow pace, Seton Hall’s Herb Pope, who led the Pirates with 27 points last night, picks up his third foul and exits.

Wednesday, March 10 – 7:22 p.m.

Tory Jackson makes a great loose-ball save, the ball makes it to Harangody who gets the layup and the free throw to make it 20-17 for the Irish. At 4:19, a Jonathan Peoples layup makes Bobby Gonzalez call a Pirate timeout.

Seen in the MSG hallway prior to the game – former Knick coach and current Miami Heat exec Pat Riley.

Wednesday, March 10 – 7:22 p.m.

Harangody ties it at 15 with a reverse layup.

Wednesday, March 10 – 7:08 p.m.

Carlton Scott picks up his second foul and that brings Harangody off the bench. Seton Hall puts on the press to push the pace and prompts two quick Irish turnovers. Then a Jeremy Hazell three out of a timeout makes it 9-2.

Wednesday, March 10 – 7:00 p.m.

Another spectator along press row tonight – Notre Dame grad and Irish ISP football radio play-by-play veteran Don Criqui.

The Notre Dame pep band has the honor of playing the National Anthem.

Probably an unusual sight to MSG fans – 2008 BIG EAST MVP Luke Harangody now coming off the bench. Harangody’s parents watch from the baseline by the Irish bench, in the first two seats next to the basket standard.

Wednesday, March 10 – 5:45 p.m.

The Irish, in their white uniforms as the higher seed, casually get some shots in – in their first exposure this year to the MSG court. ESPN sideline analyst Beth Mowins visits with Irish senior Luke Harangody. She made the trip down from Hartford after doing the BIG EAST women’s title game last night.

At MSG for the game are former Irish player Danny Miller (now an agent representing basketball players), as well as former Irish assistant Sean Kearney (and wife Kim), now head coach at Holy Cross.

There’s a new glossy publication available at the MSG titled “Madison Square Garden: 75 Years of College Hoops.”

Wednesday, March 10 – 8:00 a.m.

So, by some time after 9:00 last night, the Irish learned for sure who their second-round BIG EAST opponent would be after Seton Hall nearly lost all of a 29-point lead before holding on to defeat Providence 109-106 — with the Friars actually having a long, three-point attempt at the buzzer that banged off the backboard.

Meanwhile, the sentiment in the New York papers is that Seton Hall would need to beat the Irish tonight to get back into the NCAA conversation and then beat #2 seed Pittsburgh the next night to be an NCAA “lock” (at least according to the New York Daily News).

The Sporting News Today digital edition on its front page features a photo of Luke Harangody under the headline “Bubble Trouble.” Notre Dame is listed as the team to watch in the BIG EAST, with the suggestion “they might be able to lose their second-round game. But if they do, it better be close.” Under the sub-head “Where They’ll Stand on Selection Sunday,” Sporting News says, “Planning for St. Paddy’s Day at a first-round NCAA site.”

Hard to research this without a history of game times being available, but how many times in this New York event has Notre Dame been alive when Connecticut has not? The Huskies dropped their first-round BIG EAST game yesterday 73-51 to St. John’s and finished 17-15.

So, what we’re left with tonight is a matchup between distinctly opposite styles. Seton Hall would like to score 109 points (again) – Notre Dame would like to win at a pace that would produce half that many. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to understand the motivation involved. The Irish have played their way into the mix with four straight noteworthy wins. A fifth straight tonight would add solid emphasis to the Notre Dame case. Meanwhile, Seton Hall is being painted as desperate to win tonight (and beyond) if the Pirates want an NCAA resume that sells.

Here’s a stat for you – since the BIG EAST earned its automatic NCAA bid in 1982-83, there have been 123 league teams that reached 20 wins, and only three did not receive NCAA bids. Notre Dame currently is 21-10. Seton Hall is 19-11.

Today’s schedule sends the Irish back to The Sports Club/LA for a midday shoot-around and final preparations for tonight. The Notre Dame team bus leaves for MSG at 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 9 – 7:00 p.m.

How about this for a crazy stat? Coming into BIG EAST Championship action, Notre Dame boasted the longest winning streak of any of the 16 conference teams, at four – and an impressive four wins at that, against #16 Pittsburgh (BIG EAST #2 seed at 24-7), at #22 Georgetown (BIG EAST #8 seed at 20-9), Connecticut (17-14) and at Marquette (BIG EAST #5 seed at 20-10). Next in line were USF, Pittsburgh and West Virginia, all with three-win streaks coming into play this week at MSG.

Tuesday, March 9 – 5:15 p.m.

Mike Brey, Tim Abromaitis and sports information director Bernie Cafarelli head to MSG for a between-sessions news conference at which the BIG EAST announces its player of the year, coach of the year, rookie of the year and scholar-athlete of the year. Abromaitis receives the scholar-athlete award, with his parents and brother Jason in the audience, in a presentation from BIG EAST commissioner John Marinatto.

Recently selected as an ESPN The Magazine first-team Academic All-American, Abromaitis receives a $2,000 scholarship that can be applied to graduate or professional studies. He is the second Irish player to earn the honor. Pat Garrity, who earned BIG EAST player-of-the-year accolades in 2007, was named winner of the award in 2008. The BIG EAST Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year award is one of a number of scholarships presented by the BIG EAST Conference during the 2009-10 academic year. In addition, 32 student-athletes (one male and one female from each of the BIG EAST’s 16 member institutions) will receive postgraduate scholarships as the winners of their respective institutions’ Scholar-Athlete Award. The conference also names a BIG EAST Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The winners of the institutional, basketball and football awards are then eligible for the BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, which provides an additional postgraduate scholarship to one male and one female student-athlete.Abromaitis becomes Notre Dame’s first first-team Academic All-America selection since Chris Quinn in 2006 and is the eighth different Irish player to garner Academic All-America honors on 13 occasions. He also is the program’s seventh first-team Academic All-America honoree.

A junior finance major in the Mendoza College of Business, Abromaitis owns a 3.72 grade point average. A three-time member of the Dean’s List and member of the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team, he will graduate in May 2010 one full year ahead of his class and will enter Notre Dame’s intensified one-year MBA program following graduation.

Abromaitis, who did not play at during the 2008-09 campaign and in just 12 games during his rookie season in 2007-08, was named to the BIG EAST Honorable Mention Team on Sunday. He ranked as one of the league’s most improved players in ’09-’10. He averaged career best of 18.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 18 conference contests this season and is averaging personal bests of 17.2 and 4.9 rebounds overall. Abromaitis has scored in double figures in all but three games this season and has topped the 20-point mark on eight occasions and netted 30-plus points in two of those contests (a career-high 31 points against Central Florida and a BIG EAST-best 30 points against Syracuse).

With two years of eligibility remaining, Abromaitis would appear to be a strong candidate to win the award each of the next two years as well. There have been only two repeat winners (Seton Hall’s Arturas Karnishovas in ’93 and ’94 – and Connecticut’s Emeka Okafor in ’03 and ’04) but no three-time winners.

Some of the BIG EAST awards had been previously announced – including Notre Dame’s Tory Jackson winning the Sportsmanship Award. But the top four awards are a surprise until tonight. Syracuse’s Wes Johnson is named player of the year, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim coach of the year and Cincinnati’s Lance Stephenson rookie of the year.

After the awards ceremonies, Abromaitis does a few brief interviews, then returns with Brey and Cafarelli to the team hotel where the rest of the evening features the team’s night-before pre-game Mass followed by a team dinner in the hotel.

Tuesday, March 9 – 12:50 p.m.

The Irish go through their paces at The Sports Club/LA on 61st Street, preparing for a to-be-determined opponent (Seton Hall and Providence play at 7:00 tonight, with the winner meeting Notre Dame Wednesday night). Several of the Irish coaches will head to MSG tonight to scout that contest.

Tuesday, March 9 – 12:15 p.m.
What sort of name recognition does Notre Dame basketball hold in the Big Apple? As the Irish players and staff wait outside their hotel for their bus to head to practice, one passer-by stops to take a cell-phone photo of Luke Harangody – and another apparent Irish fan recognizes the Notre Dame players in their gear and yells out the window and honks the horn of his white SUV. Irish football coach Brian Kelly, who made the trip to New York with the basketball squad, kiddingly approaches Irish rookie and Harangody-look-alike Jack Cooley and calls him Luke. Meanwhile, it’s a picture-perfect 58-degree day in the city.

Tuesday, March 9 – 8:00 a.m.
Plopped in the e-mail in-box this morning is the Sporting News digital edition with a BIG EAST preview that begins with the headline “Notre Dame has caught fire at right time.” Mike DeCourcy picks the Irish to advance to the championship game against Syracuse.

Meanwhile, the New York papers are loaded with coverage of the BIG EAST event:

— From the New York Post: columnist Steve Serby says, “The Never Say Die-rish deserve an NCAA bid and kudos to coach Mike Brey for playing three weeks without elite big man Luke Harangody (knee), who now comes off the bench. Prediction: Dancing.”

— The New York Daily News suggests Note Dame is the team with the most to lose, advancing the notion that if Seton Hall defeats Providence tonight and Notre Dame tomorrow, there’s a scenario in which the Pirates might end up with a bid instead of the Irish.

— The New York Times features a Pete Thamel analysis of the economics of running a BIG EAST men’s basketball program.

— Luke Hillesland’s New York Times blog yesterday featured an analysis of the Irish with and without Luke Harangody, under the title, “Why Notre Dame Has Succeeded Without Harangody.”

Monday, March 8 – 8:00 p.m.
Former Irish player Zach Hillesland, in town to blog for the New York Times, shares a late dinner with several Notre Dame administrators. . . . Seen in the hotel lobby: Tim Abromaitis’s older brother Jason, a former basketball player at Yale. . . . Former Notre Dame guard Kyle McAlarney was traded a few weeks back by the NBDL Fort Wayne (Ind.) Mad Ants to the Springfield (Mass.) Armor. McAlarney averaged 10.5 points and three assists per game with the Mad Ants.

Monday, March 8 – 3:30 p.m.
The Irish depart Michiana Regional Airport on their packed charter for New York, landing at New Jersey’s Teterboro airport. They roll into their tournament headquarters in the Murray Hill Neighborhood of Manhattan about 6:30 p.m, then head to dinner within the hour at an Italian restaurant near the hotel. Then it’s back to the hotel for a 10:30 p.m. meeting.

Monday, March 8 – 12:00 p.m.
Mike Brey’s Irish practice at home on their Purcell Pavilion floor. It’s quiet on campus with most students gone for spring break and most other Irish teams competing away from home.

Monday, March 8 – 9:00 a.m.
Start the day with a little history. Notre Dame is a #7 seed in this year’s event – and that’s the third time that’s happened. The Irish also were a #7 in 2000 (defeated #10 Rutgers 74-62 in first round, then lost 61-58 to #2 Miami in quarterfinals) and again in 2004 (defeated #10 West Virginia 75-65 in first round, then lost 66-58 to #2 Connecticut in quarterfinals). In fact, the two Irish wins as a #7 seed mark their most compared to any other seeding in the previous 14 Notre Dame appearances in this event.

Here’s the history of Notre Dame’s tournament seeding:
#1 West – 2001 – L 66-54 to #5 West Pittsburgh in quarterfinals
#2 West – 2002 – W 83-63 vs. #3 East St. John’s L 82-77 to #1 East Connecticut in semifinals
#3 – 2008 – L 89-79 to #6 Marquette
#4 West – 2003 – L 83-80 to #5 East St. John’s
#4 – 2007 – W 89-83 vs. #5 Syracuse, L 84-82 to #1 Georgetown in semifinals
#6 – 2005 – L 72-65 to #11 Rutgers
#7 – 2000 – W 74-62 vs. #10 Rutgers, L 61-58 to #2 Miami in quarterfinals
#7 – 2004 – W 75-65 vs. #10 West Virginia, L 6-58 to #2 Connecticut in quarterfinals
#7 – 2010 — ???
#8 – 1999 – L 79-69 to #9 Seton Hall
#9 – 1997 – L 84-66 to #8 Syracuse
#9 – 1998 – L 72-55 to #8 Providence
#10 – 2009 – W 61-50 vs. #19 Rutgers, L 74-62 to #7 West Virginia in quarterfinals
#12 – 2006 – L 67-63 to #5 Georgetown
#13 – 1996 – L 76-55 to #4 Syracuse

So here’s the breakdown of Notre Dame’s 5-14 overall BIG EAST Championship results: 2-1 vs. Rutgers, 1-1- vs. St. John’s, 1-1 vs. West Virginia, 1-2 vs. Syracuse, 0-1 vs. Pittsburgh, 0-1 vs. Marquette, 0-1 vs. Seton Hall, 0-1 vs. Providence, 0-1 vs. Miami, 0-2 vs. Connecticut, 0-2 vs. Georgetown.

Here’s the record based on seeding: 2-2 as #7, 1-1 as #10, 1-1 as #2, 1-2 as #4, 0-1 as #12, 0-1 as #13, 0-1 as #8, 0-1 as #6, 0-1 as #3, 0-1 as #1, 0-2 as #9.

Friday, March 5 – 12:19 p.m.
As soon as the BIG EAST tournament seeds are published, you will know who the Irish play. Check back to und.com and Blogging in the Big Apple as will will reveal who the Irish play at the 2010 BIG EAST Tournament in New York City.