The Big Win Tournament — Week One, Round One

As promised yesterday, we’re ready to introduce you to your first eight seeds and kick off the battle to see which Notre Dame Men’s Basketball victory has been the biggest. For each matchup, you’ll get a blurb about the game’s when, where, and whyfors. You’ll also get a comment about why I seeded it where I did.

Speaking of seedings, remember I’m not a tournament uber alles kind of guy. There will probably be some post-season wins you’ll think are seeded too high and some regular-season wins you’ll think are seeded too low. Remember, the votes are in your hands, so if you don’t like the seed, you have the power to say so.

And away we go:

Game 1

#37 Seed: Notre Dame 98, #2 Texas 92

December 8, 2002 — BB&T Classic, Washington, D.C.

What happened: ND beat their third top 10 opponent in a week and won the BB&T Classic. Chris Thomas got the better of the Longhorns’ TJ Ford with 19 points and eight assists.

Why It’s Here: Three top-10 wins in a week is awesome. This game may be seeded lower than some people want, but Texas vs ND in basketball doesn’t carry the weight it does on the gridiron, especially in a tournament that doesn’t exist anymore.

#30 Seed: #5 Notre Dame 65, #1 Indiana 64

March 12, 1954 — NCAA Sweet 16, Iowa City, IA

What Happened: In only their second year in the NCAA’s, the Irish got to the Elite Eight again, knocking off the top-ranked Hoosiers behind 25 points from Dick Rosenthal and avenging an Indiana defeat the previous year.

Why It’s Here: While it may have required fewer games to get to the E8 in those days, beating Branch McCracken’s top-ranked IU team was a hell of a way to do it.

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Game 2

#36 Seed: Notre Dame 116, Georgetown 111 (4OT)

February 9, 2002 — Washington, D.C.

What Happened: Until they broke it eleven years later, Notre Dame owned the record for the longest regular-season game ever played in the Big East. Chris Thomas played all 60 minutes of the contest, and Matt Carroll saved his best for the last OT, scoring ND’s final seven points for the victory.

Why It’s Here: There’s only one regular-season game on this list where both teams are unranked But a record is a record.

#31 Seed: Notre Dame 67, #1 Syracuse 58

January 21, 2012 — Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center

What Happened: The Orange entered South Bend 20-0 and left 20-1. Jack Cooley had a double-double, and Notre Dame defeated their eighth top-ranked team.

Why It’s Here: While defeating Jim Boeheim-coached teams is never a bad thing, the Orange didn’t have Fab Melo that day, which is why it’s the lowest-ranked of the wins over #1 on the list.

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Game 3

#35 Seed: Notre Dame 66, #3 Syracuse 65

February 17, 1990 — Syracuse, NY

What Happened: An Elmer Bennett three-pointer was the dagger in the Carrier Dome, and Digger Phelps danced his way over to shake Jim Boeheim’s hand afterward.

Why It’s Here: This probably should have been the last game in, provided it was entered at all, but I watched this game during my Junior Parents Weekend, and I will never forget Digger’s prance and the look on Boeheim’s face as he did it.

#32 Seed: #13 Notre Dame 72, Eastern Kentucky 57

March 10, 1953 — NCAA First Round, Ft. Wayne, IN

What Happened: Joe Bertrand’s 23 points was enough to lead Notre Dame to their first ever post-season and NCAA tournament victory.

Why It’s Here: ND was prohibited by school rules from playing in the post-season for decades. When the 1953 team was permitted to go, they made the most of their opportunity.

[crowdsignal poll=10536930]

Game 4

#34 Seed: Notre Dame 64, #5 Kentucky 51

January 23, 1950 — Notre Dame Fieldhouse

What Happened: Behind Kevin O’Shea’s 18 points, Notre Dame took out top-five Kentucky. Bothered by the raucous-as-usual Fieldhouse crowd, Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp swore he’d never come to South Bend to play again. He was true to his word … the Wildcats wouldn’t play their next game at Notre Dame until 1990 (edit: 1982, apparently, but still after the old coot was dead).

Why It’s Here: I wanted to make sure people knew Adolph Rupp counted cowardice among his many character flaws.

#33 Seed: #7 Notre Dame 94, #10 Indiana 87

March 14, 1958 — NCAA Sweet 16, Lexington, KY

What Happened: Ring of Honor member Tommy Hawkins was running roughshod as a junior, and his 31 points led the Irish to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. It was the last E8 Notre Dame would see until 1977.

Why It’s Here: ND got screwed having to play Rupp and Kentucky at their place the next day, but the Hawk won his last tournament game that day vs the Hoosiers.

[crowdsignal poll=10536932]

Votes will be tallied at 11:59pm EDT Wednesday, April 15. The winners will move on, the losers will be fondly remembered.

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