Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Oye Vei

The hand is hovering around the button, but no, it is not the time to push the panic button just yet on the Irish hoops team. After crapping out on the road again the way they did, makes you wonder if Notre Dame is still going to go dancing. I'm still holding out hope that Brey will help turn this ship around and get ready for a little run to give the Irish some breathing room. At least other media types are giving me that sense.

Here's what we know so far. Currently the Irish stand at 13-4 overall and 3-2 in league play, which is good for sixth place. Even though ND lost to Georgetown, the Irish picked up some quality RPI ratings due to the fact that Cincinnati beat a depleted Pittsburgh squad, and Kansas State beat Texas A&M. Notre Dame's overall RPI rating moved up ever so slightly to 52. On the positive spin of things, the Irish's losses have come to three, RPI Top 50 opponents: Georgetown (#12), Marquette (#23), and Baylor (#31); and one RPI Top 100: Georgia Tech (#84). Notre Dame also has three quality wins over Top 50 teams: West Virginia (#27), Connecticut (#46), and Kansas State (#50). These are the type of credentials us Irish fans need to see if you are crapping your pants right now.

Also if you didn't notice, Baylor just sneaked into the Top 25 AP poll this week, while Kansas State and West Virginia are barely on the outside at 28th and 29th, respectively. When the Irish go on a four-game winning streak against Villanova, Providence, DePaul, and Seton Hall, then we should see Brey's boys crack both polls. A 17-4 Irish squad awaiting a rematch with the Golden Eagles doesn't sound bad at all, does it?

Did you know that there are 28 projected NCAA Tournament Bracket sites? Yeah, there are more people, besides myself, that have plenty of time on their hands. When you calculate all of these 28 brackets, the Irish averaged out to be a 9 seed. ND was ranked in all, but two brackets (The Hoops Report and Bracket Wag), and were ranked as high as a 5 seed (Bracket Watch) and low as 13th (PHSports). Last week, the Irish were a constant 8 seed.

The other #9 seeds are Massachusetts (13-4, 2-1, Atlantic 10), Ohio State (12-6, 3-2, Big Ten), and Kansas State (12-4, 2-0, Big 12). Possible first round opponents could be Rhode Island (15-3, 1-2, Atlantic 10), Arizona State (14-3, 4-1, Pac 10). Louisville was the other 8th seed. Below is the current seedings for the Big East.

Georgetown (3 seed)
Pittsburgh (4 seed)
Marquette (5 seed)
W. Virginia (7 seed)
Villanova (7 seed)
Louisville (8 seed)
Notre Dame (9 seed)
Connecticut (11 seed)
Providence (11 seed)

The Irish are still on course of winning 22 games this season. Games coming up with the likes of DePaul (twice), Providence, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Syracuse, St. John's, and South Florida, should get Notre Dame primed and ready for a possible 6-9 seed. If they can get one or more against a quality opponent like Louisville, Marquette, or Villanova, their seed could possibly be better.

If Tory Jackson can find his touch from last season, instead of his Big East leading turnover snafu, and Ryan Ayers can get a clue, the Irish should get on track. Look for Brey to shuffle his lineup a bit by inserting Zach Hillesland into Ayers' starting role. The time is now for Notre Dame. It's either put up or go back to the NIT!

We shall see in the next coming weeks. Oh yeah, one more thing, before I leave you for now, but the record for Big East road teams got much worse this past weekend. The winning percentage is now at 22.2% with road teams winning only 10 games and losing 35! WHOA! So getting one win or two would do it, but getting more would be asking way too much. Don't you think?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Aztec Curse To Help Irish in 08?

Call it what you want, but San Diego State's football team has been casting a spell over their BCS power conference opponents the past couple of seasons. Whether the opponent had a rather successful year or a dismal season like the Fighting Irish, the end results for that season when facing the Aztecs has become astounding. If the trend continues, Notre Dame could be in for one heck of a turnaround season.

Since 2005, San Diego State has faced six teams from the major BCS conferences (Ohio State, UCLA, Wisconsin, Washington State, Arizona State, and Cincinnati). With the exception of Washington State, due to several key injuries, all the teams bettered their previous season's record.

UCLA (10-2): 6-6 in 2004
Ohio State (10-2): 8-4 in 2004

Wisconsin (12-1): 10-3 in 2005

Washington State (5-7): 6-6 in 2006
Arizona State (10-3): 7-6 in 2006
Cincinnati (10-3): 8-5 in 2006

That's a +2 game turnaround average from the previous season! And with the season Notre Dame had in 2007, we could possibly see the good fortunes of an Aztec spell of at least +5 game turnaround.

Another positive in facing San Diego State is that the Aztecs have had a hard time stopping the run. With the likes of Robert Hughes, Armando Allen, James Aldridge, and Company leading the charge, Notre Dame could be in for one of their highest rushing totals in the Charlie Weis era. In the three previous seasons, SDSU has given up an average of 228 yards on the ground to BCS power conference schools. Last season they gave up 287 yards rushing to Cincinnati!

It doesn't get better through the air either, as SDSU gave up an average of 233 yards to those six opponents. This could be a game where Jimmy Clausen can hang up some Brady-esque like numbers.

On average the Aztecs are giving up 36 points to their opponents, while only scoring less than two touchdowns (13.0) per contest.

Curse or no curse, Notre Dame has luck on their side; not to mention a little redemption for all the naysayer’s too!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Notre Dame 411 on the Frozen Four


* Coach: Jeff Jackson (third year, 71-41-11).

* Record: 26-15-4.

* How they got here: The Irish beat top-seeded New Hampshire 7-3 in the first round of the West Regional, then beat Michigan State 3-1 in the regional final.

* Key players: F Ryan Thang, So., (17 goals, 13 assists); F Mark Van Guilder, Sr., (12 goals, 17 assists); G Jordan Pearce, Jr., (22-14-4 record, .917 saves percentage, 1.95 goals- against average).

Slap shots

Ryan Thang played our word- association game

Joe Sakic . . . The shots

Altitude . . . Very thin air

Win one for the Gipper . . . Big wins in hard times

Michigan . . . Tradition and powerhouse

The Frozen Four . . . A dream come true

Denver . . . Mountains, tradition of Avalanche

In the crease

Junior goalie Jordan Pearce, on why he started playing the position:

"I have an older brother, he's about 21/2 years older than me. When I was really young, like 2 years old, he would throw me in the net for street hockey or knee hockey or ice hockey. He was always older than me, so he always made me play goalie whenever we were messing around in the street. So it's always been second nature to me. When I started playing hockey myself, that's where I saw myself and enjoyed myself the most - in net. I've been a goalie ever since then."

In the box

Coach Jeff Jackson, on Notre Dame's defining moment of the season

"They've had such a tough second half with some of the things that have happened to them. I give them a lot of credit for their resiliency. But that's kind of the spirit of Notre Dame, too. They're kind of bred that way while they're there. They have a tough academic schedule. They have a real tough, demanding coach who's a pain in the rear. They're resilient because they have a tough life Monday through Sunday, basically."

Jackson, on Notre Dame's moment of concern:

"The Northern Michigan game (on March 22, a 2-1 loss in the league's third-place game). . . . I didn't tell the guys, but I was told we were better off losing. And I still pulled the goalie with two minutes left to try and win the game. A tie would have definitely hurt us, but I wouldn't want any other coach to do that to me if I was hanging on by a thread of making the NCAA tournament. We were playing to win that game. It was disappointing, to say the least."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

There Can Only Be One: College Football Style

I'm not a real big fan of the NBA, however I like their ads for the Playoffs: "There Can Only Be One", with a split shot of two faces. Well since it is down time for Notre Dame athletics, especially after the Fighting Irish baseball team crapped out the last few weeks of the season (Thanks Dave Schrage!); I've decided to make my own ads for the upcoming College Football Season.

If you want to make your own, please share with the rest of the Fighting Irish Nation, and take a look at what others have done on this NBA site: http://www.nba.com/therecanonlybeone/.

Enjoy and have a safe and Happy Memorial Day!

Here's a few good ones that everyone should enjoy.