This year’s Notre Dame team is a lot like another potential #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament; another team currently ranked in the college basketball top four- the Ohio State Buckeyes. In both South Bend and Columbus, college football comes first, foremost, and probably second, third and fourth too.
It sounds ridiculous to say, but both OSU and ND are “flying under the radar,” so to speak. Neither team gets the proper attention it deserves from it’s fanbase, because the gridiron is unquestionably king on both campuses. But hoops hotbedness is improving at the Joyce Center.
“I had four people come up to me and say, it’s a tough ticket tonight,” ND Coach Mike Brey said the night of the final home game in Purcell Pavilion.
“That’s music to my ears. I like that the place is 9,200. We want it to be a bit of a tough ticket and people scrambling in town.”
By Paul M. Banks
I don’t think the history of Irish sports has seen a moment like this- where ND is SO MUCH more nationally relevant in basketball than football. I’m hard pressed to remember a time when it was even close. For perspective, think of it this way. If the roles were flipped, football would be in a BCS game, while hoops would be NIT bound.
And escaping the NIT last year, is part of what motivates them. This team has become the absolute epitome of “Ewing Theory” having their best season after the departure of the school’s leading rebounder and second leading scorer in Luke Harangody. Their all senior starting lineup learned how to win without him down the stretch last year.
“I think they came in with a belief, and it started last year, the four of them, minus Scott Martin cuz he was injured. They learned to win together. They were really poor at 6-8 in the league. They were scrambling, Harangody was out. Those guys came together and ‘Gody re-joined us in a different role. And they won to get in the NCAA tournament, not as a #10 seed, but a #6 seed. Really what we did last year is a little bit off the charts- to go from NITville to a #6 seed. And that probably stoked some fires, to lose in the first round after riding some great momentum to get in.”
But people have doubted this team all season long.
“I know people look at us and don’t take us seriously because we’re white,” Hansbrough was quoted last week.
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.
And Hansbrough’s decision to transfer from Mississippi State has been the greatest thing for both him and the program. It appears he made the right decision before looking at a bunch of other schools.
“Oklahoma State, Purdue, Missouri, a lot of other schools, I was going to go visit. And I committed to Notre Dame, after visiting. I knew I made the right decision after coming to watch them play and getting to know Mike Brey a little better,” Hansbrough said.
How far they go in the BET and later in the big tourney depends much on how far he can take them.
He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com
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