Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey spoke with the media Monday on the Atlantic Coast Conference coaches teleconference.
Here are three takeaways from his most noteworthy comments.
DOUBLE BYE POSITION
Though Notre Dame cannot win the ACC’s outright regular-season championship — first-place North Carolina has already captured at least a share of the title and the No. 1 seed in the league’s tournament — the Irish are in good shape for a top-four finish.
Currently in a three-way tie for second place, Notre Dame (22-7 overall and 11-5 in the ACC) is deadlocked with Florida State and Louisville. The top four teams in the conference get a double bye for the postseason event, meaning just two wins are needed to reach the championship game Saturday night.
If Notre Dame wins its final two games against Boston College and Louisville, it is assured of a finish no lower than fourth and could be as high as second. Several other scenarios exist where the Irish could lose their finale at Louisville and still get a top-four seed.
“If we were to finish in the top four and get a double bye, that would be six out of the last eight seasons between the Big East and the ACC that we’ve done that,” Brey said. “It’s something we’re really proud of, a top-four finish.”
The Irish have gotten the double bye in the league tournament the past two seasons. It has benefited Notre Dame greatly, evidenced by a title in 2015 and a semifinal appearance last year.
“Realistically, it’s hard to get to Saturday night if you’ve got to play Wednesday,” Brey said. “You have a much better chance of getting to Saturday night if you start playing on Thursday. That’s what we’ve talked about.”
Regardless of byes in the ACC Tournament, Notre Dame is considered a lock for the NCAA Tournament, in addition to several other conference members.
The ACC has seven teams in the Associated Press poll, led by top-10 teams North Carolina (No. 5) and Louisville (No. 8). KenPom.com has seven ACC teams in his top 30, with North Carolina leading the way at No. 3. KenPom has the Irish at No. 25.
Of the ACC’s 15 teams, 13 are ranked in KenPom’s top 100. Only NC State (No. 105) and Boston College (No. 164) are not.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi currently has the Irish as a No. 5 seed in his latest Bracketology, opening up against 12th-seeded UT-Arlington in Milwaukee with a possible second-round matchup against fourth-seeded Butler.
CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm also has the Irish as a No. 5 seed, but instead facing Nevada with a potential second-round game against fourth-seeded West Virginia.
GEORGIA TECH TOUGH
The Yellow Jackets gave Notre Dame a solid test Sunday evening, holding the Irish to one of their worst shooting performances of the season.
Notre Dame finished with its third-lowest offensive efficiency of the season (95.3), trailing only outings against Virginia (85.9) and the first matchup with Georgia Tech (94.5). Notre Dame also had its second-lowest effective field goal outing of the year at 43.9 percent, trailing only the 41.0-percent game against Miami Jan. 12.
In the first season under Josh Pastner, Georgia Tech is among the nation’s best defensive teams, currently ranked seventh in defensive efficiency (91.1).
“And what we expected, a very grinding type of game against a very good Georgia Tech team, an NCAA Tournament team in my opinion who plays great defense,” Brey said. “We’re thrilled to get a win and we’ve got a busy week.”
Brey was asked Monday about his thoughts for first-team All-Defensive squad in the league. He began by talking about one of his own players, senior guard Steve Vasturia.
Vasturia, who will play his final Notre Dame home game on Wednesday, logs major minutes — 89.9 percent in ACC play, sixth-most in the league — and has proven his worth on the defensive end.
Brey highlighted Vasturia’s work on the opponent’s star guards this season in helping the Irish rank 65th in the country in defensive efficiency (98.8).
“We have put him on the best perimeter guy all the time,” Brey said.
And since Notre Dame moved to a full-time four-guard lineup, Vasturia is often defending forwards for stretches of time.
“Actually when we’re playing smaller, he’s guarding the power forward sometimes,” Brey said. “He does a little bit of everything.”