The Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels en route to winning the 2015 ACC Tournament — the first in the program’s history.
The Fighting Irish’s stock has been going up in recent weeks. Once pegged as a sexy “sleeper pick” for this year’s NCAA Tournament, Notre Dame will now, most likely, be a top eight seed — essentially a No. 2 seed in their region once the brackets are officially announced today on Selection Sunday — and an incredibly tough out for mostly everybody else.
Here’s what you need to know about the ACC sleeping giant that just awoke:
1. The Fighting Irish Roster
Here is the team’s 2014-15 roster. It is headlined by the dynamic back court of Demetrius Jackson and Jerian Grant.
Torres, Austin, F
Beachem, V.J., Fd
Farrell, Matt, G
Jackson, Demetrius, G
Katenda, Eric, F
Burgett, Austin, F
Gregory, Matt, F
Grant, Jerian, G
Geben, Martinas, F
Connaughton, Pat, F
Auguste, Zach, F
Vasturia, Steve, G
Colson, Bonzie, F
2. Notre Dame Only Recently Joined the ACC
Notre Dame up until 2013 was a member of the Big East Conference — the old Big East Conference. Since then, Louisville has also joined the ACC. Other Big East teams that made the switch were Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
In their first year in the new conference, Notre Dame finished a lowly 15-17 and underachieved for the better part of last season. This year, they finished 29-5.
3. Mike Brey Is Their Head Coach
A native of Rockville, Maryland, he grew up a Maryland Terrapin fan and eventually eight seasons as an assistant coach at Duke from 1987-95; winning two National Championships in 1991 and 1992.
In June 2012, Brey was signed to a 10-year contract by Notre Dame that would make him the head coach through 2021-22. According to his bio page on Notre Dame’s athletics website:
During his 19-year head-coaching career and his 14 seasons with the Irish, Brey has quietly amassed an impressive resume that includes 13 20-win seasons and 11 NCAA Championship appearances and nearly 400 career wins and 300 victories at Notre Dame. He has a program he can truly call his own and one that defines his coaching style and character. His overall coaching record stands at 399-210 (.655) including 300-159 (.654) at Notre Dame.
4. The Team’s 29-5 was a Remarkable Turnaround
The Fighting Irish’s one-year turnaround in ACC play was astonishing. The team finished 14-4 in conference play during the regular season and rattled off another four victories in the ACC Tournament.
What made this season even more impressive is that they went 3-1 against the Duke/North Carolina pair with four of the five victories coming on the road or on a neutral court. They lost 62-56 to Virginia and defeated Louisville in Louisville 71-59.
Notre Dame has the chance to do something they haven’t done since 1978 — the year they ended UCLA’s magical, historic winning streak.
5. Notre Dame Is Located in South Bend, Indiana
The campus of Notre Dame University is located in South Bend, Indiana in the central part of the state. The campus is 15 minutes away from South Bend Regional airport. The campus is also easily accessible by both car and train.
Notre Dame is one of the most prestigious and well-known Catholic universities in not just the United States, but the entire world.