NCAA Chicago Regional Preview

NCAA Chicago Regional: #1 Notre Dame (32-3)
 Where:  Chicago, Ill. | Wintrust Arena
 Round:  Sweet 16 | #4 Texas A&M (26-7)
 When:  Saturday, March 30 | 3 p.m. CT / 4 p.m. ET
 Watch:  ESPN2
 Listen:  Pulse FM 96.9/92.1/103.1 | Bob Nagle (PxP) 
 Notes:  Notre Dame | Texas A&M
 Round:  Elite 8 | #2 Stanford or #11 Missouri St. 
 When:  Monday, April 1 | 8 p.m. CT / 9 p.m. ET
 Social:  @NDWBB
 Reminder:  Clear bag policy will be in place at Wintrust Arena

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Onward to the Chicago Regional for the No. 1 seeded Notre Dame women’s basketball team as the Fighting Irish (32-3) look to book their second straight trip to the Final Four and ninth overall. First up is a Sweet 16 rematch from last year in the form of No. 4 seeded Texas A&M (26-7). Tip is set for Saturday, March 30, at 4 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. CT, inside Wintrust Arena. Tickets are still available and can be found by clicking here.

If successful, the Irish will advance to Monday’s Elite Eight round and face the winner of No. 2 seeded Stanford and No. 11 seeded Missouri State. Tipoff for that matchup is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. CT. 

Notre Dame begins its 26th NCAA Championship in 2019 and 24th in a row. Their 24 straight appearances are the fourth longest active streak in the country and fifth best all-time.

The Irish are 64-23 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. Their 64 wins rank fifth all-time. Notre Dame joins Louisiana Tech, Baylor, USC and Stanford with two NCAA titles behind only UConn (11) and Tennessee (8). 

Notre Dame is one of only four schools (Tennessee, UConn and Louisiana Tech) to reach six NCAA Title games. Their eight Final Four appearances are the fifth-most of any school behind Tennessee (18), UConn (18), Stanford (13) and La Tech (10).

The Irish have reached nine Elite Eights. In fact, Notre Dame and UConn are the only teams to reach the Elite Eight seven times in the last eight years. Yet, the Irish have been more successful than any other regularly-appearing school at that stage, as their .889 winning percentage (8-1) is the best of any program to play in at least five Elite Eights.

Best Elite Eight Winning % (Min. Five App.)
No., School, Record, Pct.
1. Notre Dame, 8-1, .889

2. UConn, 19-5, .792
3. Stanford, 13-6, .684
4. Tennessee, 18-10, .643

Finally, Notre Dame has advanced to 17 Sweet 16s. The Irish are one of four schools to make the last 10 straight Sweet 16s, joining UConn, Stanford and Baylor.

The starting fivesome of Ogunbowale, Young, Mabrey, Shepard and Turner are officially the most prolific scoring group in NCAA Division I history. The ND five have amassed 9,905 points and have a good chance to be the first group to ever accumulate 10,000 points. The 2017-18 Ohio State squad is in second place with 8,492 points. The highest total on the men’s side – the 2008-09 North Carolina team with 8,216 points. 

Three players –> three different record holders. Ogunbowale became Notre Dame’s all-time scoring leader on Feb. 21 vs Duke. The senior surpassed Skylar Diggins-Smith’s record of 2,357 career points. In addition, Ogunbowale is just 1-of-5 Irish greats to score over 2,000 points, joining Ruth Riley, Katryna Gaither, Beth (Morgan) Cunningham and of course Skylar Diggins-Smith. Ogunbowale now sits with 2,517 career points.

On March 9 in the ACC Semis vs Syracuse, Marina Mabrey became Notre Dame’s made three-pointers record holder. Mabrey went 4-for-9 from deep, surpassing Alicia Ratay (262). The senior now boasts 265 career made threes.

Not done yet because on March 25 vs Michigan State, Brianna Turner became the new rebounding leader at Notre Dame, surpassing Ruth Riley’s mark of 1,007. Turner now possesses 1,010 rebounds. 

The 2013-14 Irish squad led by Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa hold the program record for highest scoring average for a season at 86.1 ppg (3,271 points in 38 games). However, that number is about to be topped by this year’s high octane squad. The 2018-19 Irish boast the No. 1 offense in the country, averaging 89.2 ppg.

This year’s squad also boasts the second best shooting percentage in the country, converting 51.8 percent. That number also tops the 2013-14 squad’s 50.6 percent, but ranks second to the 1987-88 squad’s 53.2 percent. Note the ’88 Irish shot significantly less, making 836-of-1,572. 

Shepard is currently riding the best stretch of her season posting seven double-doubles in the last 10 games (or 8 in the last 12). Last year, Shepard was a double-double machine in March, recording six double-doubles over the last eight games.

Next, Young has garnered four double-doubles over the last six games. She has achieved 11 double-doubles this season, which continues to break the program record for a guard. In addition, her 16 career double-doubles sits just one back from Lindsay Schrader (17), who holds the record for a guard.

2,000 POINTS & 1,000 REBOUNDS
Shepard reached a very rare milestone at UNC on Jan. 27 — surpassing 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. The senior now has 2,274 points and 1,197 rebounds, which ranks 14th and 11th, respectively, among active DI players. The only Irish player to ever achieve this impressive feat was 2001 graduate Ruth Riley, who garnered 2,072 points and 1,007 rebounds.

Lastly, Shepard is just 1-of-9 active DI players right now to possess over 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. However, one additional Irish player is quickly approaching the milestone. Brianna Turner sits with 1,010 career rebounds and 36 points shy of 2,000.

Young and Mabrey have been dynamic in distribution as of late. Young has dished out 52 assists, with only 15 turnovers, over the last seven games. In that stretch, the junior achieved a career high 12 assists at Syarucse, followed by 11 versus Virginia, becoming the first player since Lindsay Allen to notch back-to-back games with double-digit assists (10 vs. Virginia, 3/3/17; 10 vs. Louisville, 3/4/17; 13 vs. Duke, 3/5/17, all @ Conway, S.C.).

Meanwhile, Mabrey has dished out 52 total assists with only 12 turnovers over the last eight games, which includes a career high tying 10 assists vs Duke.