The Big Win Tournament — The Final Week Begins

Back on April 13th, we kicked off the Tournament of Big ND Men’s Basketball wins. 37 of the most meaningful victories in ND men’s basketball history were seeded, and your votes determined which survived each week.

Today, we kick off the final week of the tournament, and reveal Seeds #2 through #8. Those Super Seven, along with our Week Four winner, will vie to determine which is worthy to take on the Game We All Know Is Best.

How We Got Here

Before we meet our final class, a review of the previous weeks:

Week One: The #30-37 seeds duked it out, with the best-ranked #30 seed, the 1954 victory over #1 Indiana that propelled the Irish to their second straight Elite Eight, knocking off all the other contenders.

Week Two: Seeds #23-29 joined the party, but this time the winner came from the lower ranks. Notre Dame’s win over Ohio in the NCAA tournament in 1970, where Irish great Austin Carr set the tournament scoring record with 61 points, had come in at #29 but left the week’s champion.

Week Three: Seeds #16-22 proved no match for the Week Three champ early, as #29 easily plowed through the first two rounds. In the end, though, it was edged out by ND’s 1976 streak-breaking win at Pauley Pavilion over UCLA.

Week Four: The win in LA used all its mojo to make it into the week, as it got dispatched early once Seeds #9-15 got into the mix. Last night, the week’s champ was decided, and we’ll meet that champ shortly.

First, some housekeeping. As we did last week, we’ll be (re-)introducing you to the seeds in descending order. And new this time around, we’ll dispense with the “why it’s here” explanation. At this point, if you don’t know why these wins are ranked where they are, the suffrage is wasted.

Let’s kick things off by meeting our Week Four champion:

The new boss took care of the old boss, and the #11 win over Butler in 2015 moves on.

Week Five Contenders

#11 Seed: #8 Notre Dame 67, #23 Butler 64 (OT)

March 21, 2015 — NCAA Round of 32, Pittsburgh, PA

What Happened: Hours after his mother died of a heart attack, Mike Brey coached the Fighting Irish to their first Sweet 16 since 2003. Steve Vasturia was the high point man for the Irish, while Pat Connaughton’s shot block to force overtime will live in Irish history forever.

#8 Seed: #11 Notre Dame 57, #1 Virginia 56

February 22, 1981 — The Horizon, Rosemont, IL

What Happened: The Cavaliers and mammoth center Ralph Sampson were #1 coming into the game. Tim Andree focused on keeping Sampson off the boards, and Orlando Woolridge hit the jumper to get ND the victory. Had Danny Ainge not happened….

#7 Seed: #13 Notre Dame 67, #6 Wichita State 66

November 22, 2017 — Maui Classic, Lahania, HI

What Happened: ND erased a 14-point halftime deficit to beat the #6 Shockers and win the Maui Classic title, which they’ll defend the season after next.

#6 Seed: #10 Notre Dame 76, #1 DePaul 74 (2OT)

February 27, 1980 — Joyce Athletic & Convocation Center

What Happened: Probably the most incredible basketball game ever played at the Joyce Center, which makes it all the more frustrating I couldn’t find any video for it. Both rosters were loaded with future NBA talent, and it took double OT to decide. Kelly Tripucka scored 28 to break the Demons’ 26-game winning streak.

#5 Seed: #9 Notre Dame 89, #1 UCLA 82

January 23, 1971 — Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center

What Happened: There’s that team (and that man) again. UCLA was a juggernaut behind Sidney Wicks, but ND’s Collis Jones held him in check while Austin Carr poured in 46 points. The loss was the Bruins’ first in almost a year and broke a 48-game non-conference winning streak. It would be three years until UCLA would taste defeat again.

#4 Seed: #8 Notre Dame 81, #13 Wichita State 70

March 26, 2015 — NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, Cleveland, OH

What Happened: Notre Dame hadn’t been to the Elite Eight since 1979, but a solid win over the Shockers changed that. The Fighting Irish shot 75 percent from the field in the second half and cruised to the win.

#3 Seed: #11 Notre Dame 90, #19 North Carolina 82

March 14, 2015 — ACC Conference Tournament Championship, Greensboro, NC

What Happened: A 26-3 run in the second half erased a nine-point deficit and the Fighting Irish had their first conference and post-season championship ever. Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton combined for 44 points, and freshman Demetrius Jackson made his presence felt with four assists and three steals.

#2 Seed: #6 Notre Dame 84, #7 DePaul 64

March 19, 1978 — NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, Lawrence, KS

What Happened: Two and a half months after the football team won the national title, Notre Dame blew out the Blue Demons to reach its first (and so far only) Final Four. Kelly Tripucka, Rich Branning, Duck Williams, and Bill Laimbeer all reached double-figures while shutting down the DePaul offense.

Week Five Round One Voting

There you have it, ladies and germs, your truly Elite Eight ND wins. You have until 8pm EDT this Tuesday, May 12th, to narrow it down to the Final Four.

Game 29

Game 30

Game 31

Game 32

2 thoughts on “The Big Win Tournament — The Final Week Begins

  1. You did a great job with this. Next you should do what was the worst/heartbreaking lose in ND history. We have lost so many heartbreaking games in the tourney: 74 Michigan, 76 Michigan, 77 North Carolina, 78 Duke, 80 Missouri, 81 BYU, 85 Norh Carolina, 86 ALR, 2001 Ole Miss, 2002 Duke, plus recent games against Xavier and Kentucky.