basketball

Late Tip-Offs, Barclays Center Kind To Notre Dame

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V.J. Beachem and Notre Dame beat Northwestern in November, one of two victories this season at the Barclays Center.
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The Barclays Center has been kind to Notre Dame since it opened in 2012.

The Irish are hoping that success continues this week in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

Notre Dame will take on the winner of tonight’s 7 p.m. matchup between sixth-seeded Virginia and 14th-seeded Pittsburgh. The third-seeded Irish got a double-bye and won’t play their ACC Tournament quarterfinal game until 9 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s a good thing to play somewhere you’re comfortable and you’ve had success,” senior guard Steve Vasturia said. “It’s obviously an awesome arena and anytime you’re playing in an NBA gym, it’s pretty cool. To have a couple games under our belt there where we’ve had success in close games, exciting games, it’s good to have that on your side.”

Notre Dame won both its games at Barclays Center this season, victories over Colorado and Northwestern in the Legends Classic in November.

Last season, the Irish won their first two NCAA Tournament games at the 18,103-seat arena, beating Michigan and Stephen F. Austin to advance to the Sweet 16.

The Irish are 5-1 all-time at Barclays, the only loss coming in Nov. 2012 to Saint Joseph’s.

“We’ve had great games there,” junior forward Bonzie Colson said. “We’ve got a good feel for that place and we like the arena. We like how all the spotlights on the court and we’ve had good games there. We’ve just got to keep it up.”

It’s an arena that suits senior wing V.J. Beachem. In his four career games at Barclays — the home of the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Islanders — Beachem is averaging 15.3 points per game.

And similar to previous seasons, the Irish will have to wait their turn on game day this week. Should the Irish advance Thursday, their semifinal and championship games would also be played at 9 p.m.

It’s a similar schedule to what Notre Dame played in the 2015 ACC Tourney, when its quarterfinal game began at 9:30 p.m. and the semifinal started at 10 p.m. The Irish, of course, went on to win the league championship.

Last season, Notre Dame’s NCAA Tournament win over Michigan tipped-off at 10:12 p.m.

“Night stalkers, we love it,” head coach Mike Brey said of Notre Dame’s tip-off times this week. “I saw that bracket and I said, ‘We know how to do this.’ Ten o’clock at night, you kind of hang out all day and watch everybody play. Coach (Rod) Balanis made a good point, by the time we play Thursday night, there will be only five teams left in the tournament. We do know the routine of late night.”

Notre Dame has obviously had success playing the last game of the day.

“Playing late is nothing new for us,” Beachem said. “We kind of like it, being the night owls.”

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