basketball Edit

Notre Dame Vs. West Virginia: 10 To 1

Seniors V.J. Beachem (3) and Steve Vasturia (32) want to play at least one more week for the Irish, as does junior guard Matt Farrell (5).
Matt Cashore — USA TODAY Sports

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10 This will be the 10th meeting between Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey and West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. The first was Nov. 25, 2000, when Brey in his first season with the Irish defeated Huggins' Cincinnati Bearcats, 69-51. After Huggins moved to alma mater West Virginia in 2007, the two former Big East foes have gone 4-4 against each other, with the Irish winning the last two (see number 5).

9 Consecutive games Notre Dame has finished with less than 10 turnovers, including six on Thursday versus Princeton (one in the second half). The Irish are No. 1 nationally in fewest turnovers per game (9.3).

Meanwhile, entering the Big Dance, West Virginia was No. 1 in turnovers forced with 20.29 per game — with the Citadel a distant No. 2 at 17.55. Something has to give in this type of matchup of strength vs. strength.

8 Times in Brey’s 17 seasons at Notre Dame the Irish have advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He is 3-4 in those games. Huggins is 7-9 during his career in second-round games, including 3-1 at West Virginia.

7 NCAA Tournament wins posted in their career by seniors Steve Vasturia, V.J. Beachem and Austin Torres — tying the most by a graduating class at Notre Dame with 1975-79 front court player Bruce Flowers. The Irish won one game in 1976, one in 1977, three in 1978 and two in 1979 for the seven total. Center Bill Laimbeer also was in Flowers' class, but he was academically ineligible in 1976 and was not with the team in 1977 while improving his grades at a community college to get readmitted the next year. The current Irish junior class also has seven.

6 Missed free throws against Princeton by the combination of juniors Bonzie Colson (6-of-10) and Matt Farrell (1-of-3), two of the clutch performers at the stripe all year while helping Notre Dame finish the regular season No. 1 in free throw percentage (79.9 percent).

5 Years since Notre Dame last played West Virginia as former Big East rivals. The Irish defeated the Mountaineers 71-44 on Feb. 2, 2012. Notre Dame also won at Morgantown two weeks earlier, 55-51, thus owning a two-game winning streak in the series.

4 Field goals made by the senior tandem of Beachem (1-of-9) and Vasturia (3-of-12) in 21 attempts, or 19 percent combined, in the two-point win versus Princeton in round one. At least three of the “Big 4,” including Colson and Farrell, will need to be on their shooting game against the Mountaineers if the Irish are to advance to the Sweet 16.

3 Rebounds more Notre Dame had than Princeton (36-33) in the opener on Thursday. That advantage improved the Irish record this year to 14-1 when they finish on the plus side of that category.

2 Games above .500 Brey is in NCAA Tournament games in 17 years at Notre Dame (13-11). That also puts him two wins away from tying Digger Phelps (1971-91) for most tourney victories by an Irish coach. Phelps was 15-16 overall, including 1-2 in consolation games, in 20 years.

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.


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