Tuesday, January 11, 2011
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?