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Brey: Irish may change scheduling philosophy

Andrew Soukup | Wednesday, March 17, 2004

In the wake of a brutal schedule that may have been too tough for the Irish to overcome, Mike Brey said he will re-examine the way the Irish schedule their non-conference matchups in the future.But it’s a sticky balance where Notre Dame must balance its desire to play in nationally-televised games against playing tough games that could keep the Irish out of the NCAA Tournament, he said.”In a lot of ways, we were fodder for our TV contract,” Brey said.Part of Notre Dame’s difficult schedule, which was ranked the 27th-hardest in the country, had to do with the elimination of divisions in the Big East conference. As a result, each team played every other league team at least once and played three teams twice.The system was changed by the conference this year in order to maximize the amount of marquee matchups to generate additional television revenue. So while other league teams played repeat games against weak opponents, Notre Dame went 2-4 against NCAA Tournament teams Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Syracuse, who they played twice.Although the Irish appeared on national television 13 times – the most of any Big East team – the marquee opponents they were required to play to earn the TV exposure necessary to sustain a basketball program may have hurt the Irish, Brey said.”Darn if you do,” Brey said, “and darn if you don’t.”Brey doesn’t want the Irish to back off their non-conference schedule, which has traditionally been one of the league’s toughest since Brey took the helm. And the NCAA selection committee often overlooks relatively average won-loss records if a team schedules tough teams out of conference.”We can’t back off our non-league schedule,” the Irish coach said. “We want to play UCLA, and Michigan, and Indiana and DePaul.”But playing Pitt, Pitt and Kentucky that might be different.”