10 Ranking of Notre Dame for most appearances all time in the NCAA Tournament, with this being No. 36. Technically, it is No. 9 because of Syracuse’s “vacated” situation of four bids that gives them 34 instead of 38. The Irish are 37-39 all-time in the tourney, and the lone school in the top 10 without winning a national title.
Notre Dame also is aiming to win back-to-back NCAA Tournament games for only the 10th time in 36 appearances, including the third year in a row. The others came in 1953, 1954, 1958, 1978 (three wins in a row), 1979, 1987, 2003, 2015 (3) and 2016 (3).
9 Times in the last 11 seasons (or since 2006-07) Notre Dame has received an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. Since 1953, when the Irish first accepted NCAA bids, that is the best stretch over an 11-year period in school history.
Under former head coach Digger Phelps, the school record is eight in a row (1974-81), but there was no bid the two years prior (1971-73) or the three seasons thereafter (1982-84).
8 Other ACC teams to receive an NCAA Tournament bid in addition to Notre Dame this season. The Irish record against their league brethren going to the Big Dance was 7-6: Florida State (2-1), Miami (1-0), Virginia Tech (1-0), Wake Forest (1-0), Louisville (1-1), Virginia (1-1), North Carolina (0-1) and Duke (0-2).
Last year’s Elite 8 Irish team was only 3-6 during the regular season/conference tournament against fellow ACC teams that were invited to the NCAA Tournament.
7 Notre Dame players in the main rotation who shoot at least .750 from the foul line, led by senior guard Steve Vasturia’s .915 (No. 8 nationally). The Fighting Irish finished the regular season No. 1 nationally as a team with a .799 percentage, just ahead of reigning national champ Villanova at .794.
In a further testament to sound fundaments, Notre Dame was No. 2 in fewest turnovers per game (9.4), with first-round opponent Princeton not too far behind at No. 5 (10.0), giving them a "7" combination. The Irish also are No. 5 in fewest fouls per game (14.9), with only four players who fouled out.
Finally, avictory over Princeton would make Vasturia, forward V.J. Beachem and center Austin Torres the lone senior class in school history to win seven NCAA Tournament games during their four-year career. That brings us to...
6 Wins by Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament the past two years, a school record. Head coach Mike Brey had won a total of only six (6-9) in his first 14 seasons with the Fighting Irish.
The previous standard was five in 1978 (three) and 1979 (two) when Phelps led Notre Dame to its lone Final Four, followed by an Elite Eight when it was a No. 1 seed (the first year when seeds were implemented).
5 Seed for Notre Dame in this year’s tournament. There have been three other times the Fighting Irish were the No. 5 seed: 1987, 2003 and 2008. Notre Dame advanced to the Sweet 16 in both 1987 and 2003 — the only two times they went that far in the 32 years from 1982 through 2014 — and lost in the second round in 2008 to Washington State.
4 Victories needed by 17th-year head coach Brey to eclipse Phelps, who coached 20 years from 1971-91, for most career NCAA Tournament victories by a Notre Dame coach.
Brey currently is 12-11 after recording three victories in each of the past two tournaments. Phelps was 15-16 (including 1-2 in consolation games). A trip to the “Final 4” this year would do the trick.
3 Previous meetings between Notre Dame and Princeton in men’s basketball before this Thursday’s contest. The Tigers under Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame coach Pete Carrill won the most recent on Jan. 3, 1977 by a 76-62 count.
Three years earlier Notre Dame won 80-66 against a Princeton team that would go on to win the then more prestigious 16-team National Invitational Tournament when only 32 teams were invited to the NCAA Tournament. The first contest was a 35-24 Irish win on New Year’s Eve 1927.
2 Years in a row Notre Dame will open NCAA Tournament play in New York (Buffalo) after doing it for the first time last year at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center while recording victories versus Michigan (70-63) and Stephen F. Austin (76-75).
1 For the first time in its men’s basketball history, Notre Dame will attempt to record at least two tournament victories in three consecutive years. It won three games each of the past two seasons, which was another first last year.
It is also the “1” school that has advanced to the Elite 8 in both 2015 and 2016.
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