Notre Dame pulled off a huge victory last night when it stunned Duke 77-73. At one point in the second half, Duke had a ten point lead. Notre Dame looked like it was going to come up short against the Dukies. Duke has already won road games against Wisconsin and Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish though made a furious rally and pulled the game out in the end. The victory by Notre Dame vaults them into the elite of college basketball. Outside of Kentucky and Virginia, Notre Dame stacks up with the rest of college basketball. Notre Dame is now 20-2 and 8-1 in the difficult ACC. The Fighting Irish should be a #1 seed in the tourney if the season ended today.
This year could be Mike Brey’s best team in South Bend. Jerian Grant is a superstar. Grant is one of the best shooting guards in the country. Pat Connaughton is also a solid perimeter player as well. Zach Auguste is a great post player. Notre Dame is a veteran team. Grant and Connaughton are seniors and Auguste is a junior. The Fighting Irish play great team basketball. Notre Dame has used this veteran experience and team play to vault to the top 5 of college basketball. The NC State game on Sunday was a perfect example of Notre Dame’s strong leadership. The Fighting Irish pulled out a hard fought even though they did not have their best stuff. Great teams find a way to win. Notre Dame has beaten Michigan State, Miami, North Carolina and now Duke to get to a 20-2 record. While 20-2 playing in the ACC should get you placed at the elite table of college basketball, not everyone sees it that way. The RPI has Notre Dame ranked 26th in the country. Notre Dame is behind teams such as Dayton and Georgia. The ranking shows that the RPI is an absolute joke. Notre Dame is hampered by the fact that they played eight teams above 200 in the RPI. Teams should not be evaluated by the quality of their buy-in opponents. The RPI is an important ranking in college basketball as West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said it affects the way he schedules. Notre Dame is a talented, veteran team that is 20-2 in the most difficult conference in college basketball. If the season ended today, Notre Dame should get a #1 seed.
The Fighting Irish look like they will continue their winning ways. The remaining schedule is fairly easy. Notre Dame has a rematch in Cameron against Duke along with a road game at Louisville and home against Syracuse. The rest of the schedule outside of those games isn’t too daunting. While winning the rematch against Duke will be difficult, Louisville and Syracuse are both down and could be beaten. Louisville struggled mightily against Duke and if Notre Dame can keep them out of the paint, they will have a great chance to win in Louisville. If Notre Dame can finish the regular season with 4 or even 5 losses, they should get a #1 seed. After Kentucky and Virginia, there are not many elite teams in college basketball. Notre Dame’s record will stack up with all of them. The Fighting Irish are one of the elite teams in college basketball.