Notre Dame set to start ACC Championship against Pitt
Meagan Bens | Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Notre Dame will kick off competition in the first round of the 2018 ACC Championship against Pittsburgh at 2 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The 10th-seeded Irish (18-13, 8-10 ACC) will face the 15th-seeded Panthers (8-23, 0-18 ACC) for the second time this season, with the previous contest being a 73-56 Notre Dame win Feb. 28 with the return of senior forward Bonzie Colson on Senior Night.
Although the Irish arrived in Brooklyn on Sunday and only had an hour to practice in Barclays Center yesterday, head coach Mike Brey said the team has a great record in the building.
“This group has loved playing in there,” Brey said. “I had our [sports information director] put every ACC school’s record in there and we by far have the most wins in the building, and I am going to share that with our guys tonight. I think it is especially driven by this senior class. There’s a little bit of belief that it is our place to play well.”
Even with only having Colson for the last two games, the Irish have a 5-4 record over their last nine, and Brey said he is seeing glimpses of the team that won the Maui Invitational earlier in the season.
“The last 24 hours we’ve been the discussion,” Brey said. “What do you do with Notre Dame? If you would have told me in the midst of the seven-game losing streak that a week away from selection Sunday they’d be trying to figure us out and talking about us, I would have taken that in a heart beat. Week away from selection Sunday and we are healthy, so I’m feeling good.”
Notre Dame may have lost 62-57 to Virginia on the road, but Colson said the team’s performance was promising as the team takes on the tournament.
“We felt good competing,” Colson said. “Coach talked about emptying the tank and we did that. We played really well and their movement offensively is what we will be going over every day in practice. We played hard. We came up short but played hard and we’re still building and can get better.”
Even though the team has had more time before playing their first game in the tournament in the past, senior point guard Matt Farrell said the team is up for the challenge.
“It’s going to be fun,” Farrell said. “It’s a big challenge for us, and we’ve faced challenges all year. Just another opportunity for us. I feel like we played really well down in Virginia and if we can continue that and play the way we play, we can do some damage. … Got to have confidence, and as senior captains we instill that confidence. We always have to play with confidence and play with that edge.”
Although the team is confident to take on Pittsburgh again, Farrell said the Irish cannot take any team for granted, despite having beaten the Panthers in their last outing.
“It’s do or die time,” Farrell said. “It’s another challenge and it’s fun, this is why we play and we got to get guys ready. … Every team is capable and the seniors need to realize this could be the last time to they will put their jersey on.”