The Big Win Tournament — Week Three Round One

Welcome to Week Three of the ND Basketball Big Win Tournament. 15 memorable Notre Dame hardwood victories have been reduced to one, and that one, chosen by you the readers in yet another decisive vote, moves onward and upward to challenge our next seven seeds.

Week Two Review

For those who need a refresher, we started two weeks ago with Seeds #37 through 30, which ended up being a close battle between 30 and 31. Then last week, Seeds #23 through #29 were introduced, but unlike Week One, an apparently under-seeded Cinderella made it through to take its place in the new field.

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Austin Carr’s performance against Ohio was the lowest-ranked contender of the new entrants last week. Yet it bulldozed the competition in every round to survive and advance.

Week Three Matchups

Now we’re in the third week. The wins become more meaningful. Will the voting spreads shrink accordingly?

Game 15

Let’s see if AC’s 61 points are enough to beat…

#16 Seed: #19 Notre Dame 83, Xavier 71

March 16, 2001 — NCAA Round of 64, Kansas City, MO

What Happened: Notre Dame returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 11 years and defeated the Musketeers. Matt Carroll led three of his teammates in double figures.

Why It’s Here: Mike Brey arrived in July of 2000 promising a return to the tournament for the Fighting Irish. Delivering on that promise was huge for a program desperately needing a return to relevancy. Winning the opener was icing on the cake.

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Game 16

#22 Seed: Notre Dame 61, Wisconsin 56

March 25, 2016 — NCAA Sweet 16, Philadelphia, PA

What Happened: A year after the matchup Irish fans had hoped for, Notre Dame reached the Elite Eight for the second straight year, defeating the Badgers thanks to a 93 percent night at the free throw line and Demetrius Jackson’s defense, especially in the final 30 seconds.

Why It’s Here: 2015-16 didn’t feel as dominating as the season prior, but Notre Dame got the job done when it counted and took advantage of seeding upsets to get where they needed to be.


#17 Seed: #9 Notre Dame 74, #2 Duke 64

March 13, 2015 — ACC Tournament Semifinals, Greensboro, NC

What Happened: The Fighting Irish took the rubber match from the 2nd-seeded Blue Devils behind 17 points from freshman Bonzie Colson off the bench, earning their first ever slot in a conference title game.

Why It’s Here: It didn’t win a championship, and probably would have been ranked higher if it had. But unlike the comeback win over Duke the next year, it got Notre Dame to its first conference championship game while taking eventual NCAA tournament winner Duke down for the second time in a season.

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Game 17

#21 Seed: #7 Notre Dame 66, #3 UCLA 63

December 11, 1976 — Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA

What Happened: Irish guard Rich Branning put in four points in the final 45 seconds, and Notre Dame not only won for the first time in Pauley Pavilion, they also broke a 115-game non-conference Bruin win streak and gave UCLA their 4th home loss in 12 years.

Why It’s Here: Another highlight from the Final Four season, ND broke the Pauley jinx, not to mention a major UCLA win streak, both of which were major accomplishments.


#18 Seed: #6 Notre Dame 69, #14 Utah 56

March 17, 1978 — NCAA Sweet 16, Lawrence, KS

What Happened: Kelly Tripucka led four Irish in double figures as ND got a monkey off its back and returned to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1958.

Why It’s Here: Digger’s teams had the rep as being all hat no cattle: lots of regular season wins followed by flame-outs in the NCAA tournament. This team, which would end up in the Final Four, broke that mold.

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Game 18

#20 Seed: #9 Notre Dame 65, #1 Marquette 59

February 26, 1978 — Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center

What Happened: Marquette was the defending national champions, but in their first season after Al McGuire’s retirement, they saw a 14-point lead disappear on the way to an ND victory. The green-socked Irish didn’t lead until the last three minutes of the game. Bill Hanzlik’s trademark defense shut down Warriors superstar Butch Lee in the second half, and Kelly Tripucka scored all 15 of his points in that same frame.

Why It’s Here: Marquette is ND’s most-faced opponent, and any time ND can beat them when they’re #1 is … satisfying.


#19 Seed: #13 Notre Dame 69, #20 Penn 57

March 13, 1953 — Chicago Stadium, Chicago, IL

What Happened: In the first season being allowed to participate in the post-season tournament, Johnny Jordan’s squad took down the Quakers to reach the Elite Eight. Future AD Dick Rosenthal was dominant in the paint while guard Jack Stephens led the team with 25 points.

Why It’s Here: ND’s first NCAA foray was very productive before running into a top-ranked Hoosier buzzsaw.

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Your deadline is Tuesday, April 28th, at 6pm ET. Make your opinions known.

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