The Bracketology Report: Notre Dame

Updated: February 25, 2004, 11:26 AM ET
By By Tom Durso | Insider Bracketologist

Editor's note: Each week Bracketology Insider will take an in-depth look at teams headed for the NCAA Tournament ... or not.

Week in review
Looking to capitalize on a trio of impressive and badly needed mid-February wins, Notre Dame (InsideRPI No. 57, SOS No. 15) spent the last week desperately trying -- and failing -- to make its case to the NCAA Selection Committee.

The Irish visited Connecticut (InsideRPI No. 11, SOS No. 31) last Saturday and ran into a stifling Husky defense. Shooting just 19 percent in the first half and tallying only 19 points, Notre Dame fell behind by 12 at the break and never recovered, falling 61-50. UConn's best player, Emeka Okafor, played like the lottery pick he'll be, scoring 14, snaring 22 boards and rejecting seven shots, while the Irish's Chris Thomas was completely shackled and finished with 13 points on gruesome 6-for-23 shooting.

Notre Dame returned home Tuesday to face Providence (InsideRPI No. 8, SOS No. 21), its final regular-season opponent of any real pedigree. The Irish hung tough for a while, trailing by just one after a low-scoring first half, but the Friars pulled away in the second stanza to capture a 73-59 win. As in the loss to Connecticut, Notre Dame was doomed by shaky shooting, this time hitting only 17 of 53 from the floor. Thomas got his 23 points, but needed 18 shots to do it.

Coming up
Notre Dame's only game over the next week is a late season non-conference match up with UCLA (InsideRPI No. 96, SOS No. 46) on the West Coast. After a promising start to the season, the Bruins have gone into hibernation, dropping nine of 11 heading into Wednesday's game against Southern Cal. Given the Irish's profile, this can safely be considered a must-win, though even a "W" might be too little, too late. Regardless, a loss at Pauley would mean a very long flight back to South Bend and the NIT.

Looking ahead, Notre Dame will tune up for the Big East tournament with games against Georgetown (InsideRPI No. 126, SOS No. 73) March 4 and St. John's (InsideRPI No. 158, SOS No. 22) two days later. As usual, the Hoyas coasted through their feeble non-conference schedule before having to play games against real teams, and the Red Storm's season is nothing short of a disaster. In other words, wins next week wouldn't make much of a statement for the Irish, though losses sure would.

"Bubble Trouble"
Notre Dame was No. 73 this week on The Bracketology Report national seeding chart. This placed the Irish in the troubling position of being among not the "last four out" of the projected NCAA field, but the even worse-off "next four out," and that was before Tuesday's loss to Providence.

Compounding Notre Dame's travails is that there are no remaining chances to sandbag a marquee opponent, at least not in the regular season. After the trip to Los Angeles to play UCLA, the Irish close the season against the dregs of the Big East, leaving them in dire need of a deep conference tournament run to have any realistic shot of dancing in March.

Then again, one can make the case that Notre Dame is reaping what it has sown-in this case, a pathetically weak non-conference schedule.

Games of the Week
Notre Dame fans should root FOR and AGAINST the teams in ALL CAPS.
Southern Miss @ DEPAUL (Sat.)
Against Richmond @ GEO. WASH. (Sat.)
NEVADA @ Fresno State (Sat.)

Inside the Numbers
Additional considerations for the NCAA Selection Committee include:
"Good" wins
(vs. RPI 1-25) Connecticut, Seton Hall
(vs. RPI 26-50) @Syracuse
(vs. RPI 51-100) @DePaul, West Virginia, @Villanova
"Bad" losses
(vs. RPI 101-200) NONE
(vs. RPI sub-200) Central Michigan
Record vs. projected field (3-6)
Win: Connecticut, @Syracuse, Seton Hall
Loss: @Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Kentucky, @Boston College, Pittsburgh, @Connecticut
Record vs. at-large pool (1-1)
Win: @DePaul
Loss: @Rutgers
Reason(s) to INCLUDE Notre Dame
  • "LunaRPI" (road/neutral) No. 22
  • SOS No. 15
  • Reason(s) to EXCLUDE Notre Dame
  • 4-5 road/neutral record
  • NonConf SOS No. 239
  • Season breakdown (13-10, 7-6)
    All RPI data through Monday, Feb. 24

    Date      Opponent           Result       Opp. RPI      Opp. SOS
    11/24     Northern Ill       74-65          305           280
    11/29     Mt St. Mary's      78-64          290           260

    12/1 @Marquette 58-71 (L) 81 81 12/6 Central Mich 68-69 (L) 295 187 12/10 Indiana 63-66 (L) 88 48 12/14 @DePaul 82-69 61 80 12/21 American 78-74 186 231 12/23 Quinnipiac 79-62 300 256 12/28 Morehead St 84-69 209 246

    1/7 West Virginia 63-52 69 85 1/10 @Villanova 82-78 60 31 1/12 @Pittsburgh 71-74 (L) 8 84 1/17 Syracuse 70-81 (L) 29 42 1/20 @Virginia Tech 74-63 135 114 1/25 Kentucky 63-71 (L) 3 7 1/28 Miami-Florida 72-62 160 164 1/31 @Rutgers 70-81 (L) 39 15

    2/4 @Boston College 69-76 (L) 21 8 2/7 Pittsburgh 58-66 (L) 8 84 2/9 Connecticut 80-74 11 31 2/14 Seton Hall 71-68 20 9 2/16 @Syracuse 84-72 29 42 2/21 @Connecticut 50-61 (L) 11 31 2/24 Providence 59-73 (L) 8 21 2/28 @UCLA 96 46

    3/4 Georgetown 126 173 3/6 @St. John's 158 22 3/10 BIG EAST TOURNAMENT

    Joe Lunardi's forecast (Feb. 25)
    Chance of NCAA top seed: 0 percent
    Chance of NCAA "protected" (1-4) seed: 0 percent
    Chance of NCAA bid: 30 percent
    Chance of NCAA at-large bid: 25 percent
    Chance of NIT bid: 65 percent
    Chance of missing post-season: 5 percent